Making Change by Spending Down

- אפריל 1, 2016

Dear friends,

Some family foundations pass from one generation to another and even continue after no or few members are involved. Others are set up as finite entities, whose founders, if responsible, understand the life cycle of their foundation in advance and plan it systematically, while allowing some flexibility.

ACBP belongs to the latter category. From as long as I can recall – and I was involved in some capacity even in the very early stages of ACBP's growth – the foundation was not intended to extend beyond the lifetimes of its founders. Thus the key element, in my understanding of family foundation life, is the overall orientation towards stages: take-off, peaks, steady state, and winding down towards an end, relating to individual projects but especially to the life cycle of the foundation itself. Knowledge of the stages must not be esoteric and reserved, but available for staff on all levels, and known to the "world." There will be surprises along the way, as those foundations destroyed totally or hurt badly by the Maidoff scandal can attest.

Charles and Andrea Bronfman planned an end in their lifetimes to their Foundations' activity. The schedule for that "end" changed following Andy's tragic death in 2001, and was shortened. Thus, January 1st, 2016 was set as the symbolic end of ACBC and all activity prior to that date was determined in reference to that end station. The spend-down plans were made by the foundation's executive staff, directed by Dr. Jeff Solomon, and coordinated fully with Mr. Charles Bronfman. There were no surprises of which I am aware, and the process was smooth, humane, and dignified until the very last day.

Being an operating foundation in Israel for the most part, our goal was to find other foundations or entities to replace us in our major programs. The best example of this process can be seen in the case of the "Karev" supplementary enrichment program, which reached 300,000 elementary school children in all sectors, and which was cooperation between the Ministry of Education and local authorities with ACBP. After more than a year of seeking new partners, together with our existing partners, it was decided that the Ministry of Education would take over the entire project, and choose a worthy educational entity for its operation. Rashi Foundation and the "Matnassim" won the tender, and after a full transition year, the "Karev" enrichment program is running strong, under excellent educational management. Throughout the entire winding down process we were oriented towards helping staff find new opportunities, and in preserving the inner content of needed and worthy projects. One by one we handed them on, funded transitions, and monitored.

It is clear that a well-planned process of winding down can allow for continuation in a new format of central programs and the phasing out of others. Change is built into our existence and as a long as it is not forced upon us, it should be viewed as another station on the journey.

It has been an honor.

Dr. Janet Aviad

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