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Beldon Fund completes planned closing

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Designed to have a limited lifespan but long-lasting impact, the Beldon Fund has spent its assets, closed its doors and made its post-mortem available to the public through a new website and publication.

The fund received the majority of its $120 million in funding 10 years ago, with the goal of spending it all over the next decade to build support within the public-policy arena for environmental protection.

As promised, the funder spent its assets and ceased operations on schedule on May 31.

“Given the state of the environment, I felt it would be inexcusable not to spend out now,” John Hunting, the fund’s founder, says in a statement. “Today’s money should address today’s problems and I believed that larger, targeted investments over a relatively short period of time would be more effective than smaller grants made over decades.”

Beldon awarded an average of $14 million a year in grants, an amount three to four times greater than similarly-sized foundations designed to exist in perpetuity.

To help other grantmakers learn from its experiences, Beldon has created a free publication and website called “Giving While Living” that details lessons learned in finance, operations and program strategy.

The publication outlines how to build a financial strategy for spending down, how to staff a spend-out foundation, how to prepare for closing and how to help grantees survive a funder’s closure.

The website contains the results of three independent evaluations, offers “principles for responsible exiting” and provides various tips, including encouraging collaboration among grantees and having an impact within a short period of time.

“Spending out and focusing on policy change proved a potent combination,” Anita Nager, the fund’s executive director, says in a statement. “The one allowed us to concentrate our resources and the other to achieve results that we hope will last long after our exit.”

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