Short-Term Cuts, Long-Term Results

The Robert Bowne Foundation, Inc.
New York
New York

Like most foundations in 2009, the Robert Bowne Foundation’s decline in assets meant significantly fewer dollars to give away. To have the greatest impact with its limited resources, the foundation chose to discontinue funding for those organizations least affected by losing the foundation’s support - either because they were particularly financially stable or because they were so unstable that even the foundation’s funding couldn't keep them afloat.

Executive Director Lena Townsend gleaned indicators of financial health from each grantee’s previously submitted financial statements. She compared six indicators across grantees: liquid assets/liabilities, reserves, accounts payable, accrued expenses, and changes in unrestricted revenue. Analysis of this data offered an initial assessment of the organizations least affected by a loss of foundation funds.

The foundation supplemented its assessment with qualitative factors, such as age, size, reputation, and staff commitment. One organization with tenuous financial indicators was well established and highly esteemed. Considering these additional factors, the foundation decided to fund the organization.

Although the foundation would not typically make funding decisions in this manner, targeting its funding became the means to long-term success - even if fewer dollars were allocated.