Why We’re Closing

Children with developmental disabilities, victims of climate disruption, families suffering from air pollution and exposure to toxic chemicals, and communities without access to healthy food should not have to wait for small incremental progress. That’s why we adopted a “spendout” strategy in 2012.

We aim to spend 100 percent of our assets by 2022 to make the greatest possible impact in the areas we support. This investment could approach $100 million, generating breakthroughs that will continue to improve human health and the environment for decades to come.

Our goal is to make significant progress in the issue areas we fund, and we are committed to being transparent about this process so that these fields of work remain strong and productive long after we close our doors.

JMF’s “All In” Funding Strategy: Frequently Asked Questions

What is JMF’s “all in” funding strategy?

In the interest of making the biggest possible impacts in JMF’s areas of focus – clean energy, sustainable food, public health and developmental disabilities – we announced in 2012 our intent to spend out the entirety of our endowment by 2022.

What is a spendout?

A spendout strategy – such as JMF’s – means that a foundation is committed to spending all of its resources over a limited period of time and has set a specific date for closing its doors. In our case, JMF will complete our spendout by 2022.

Why is JMF implementing this strategy?

A common theme unites the issues we work on – time is not on our side. We believe spending big in the near future will jumpstart innovative solutions to pressing human health and environmental issues.

What conditions allowed JMF to make such an ambitious decision?

In addition to the urgency of the issues our programs address, our board of directors shared a unifying vision. Although JMF was originally created to provide incremental grants, the board recognized that to realize the changes they wanted to see in their lifetimes, a spendout strategy was the best way to achieve those goals.

What is the timeline for this strategy?

By 2022, we will have distributed 100 percent of our assets into the program areas and initiatives we have supported for years, and our initial estimates suggest this could total over $100 million in grants. We are not implementing this strategy overnight, and we are committed to keeping our grantees informed as we move forward.

How will the spendout affect grantmaking?

As we increase our grantmaking between now and 2022, we will be focusing on the areas where we can make the greatest impact. While we will not be changing the types of issues JMF has always worked on, with more resources and a shortened timeframe we can be bolder in our strategies. At the same time, we will assess our effectiveness even more closely, ensuring our grantmaking is making the biggest possible difference between now and 2022.

Will JMF stop funding [a specific area, issue or campaign]?

JMF is as committed as ever to investing in organizations and leaders tackling critical issues that impact human health and the environment. As we spend out, we will continue making grants in our major program areas. However, we will be assessing progress toward our program goals in 2016 to ensure that our final years of investing achieve maximum results.

What does this mean for my organization?

JMF recognizes that our grantees have varying levels of dependence on the funding we provide. We are committed to helping those organizations that rely heavily on JMF cultivate strategies and capacity to secure new resources to support their important work into the future. We will share more information with our grantees as the strategy is further developed.

How will JMF help my organization transition through 2022 and beyond?

Finding new resources starts with achieving impact and then communicating effectively about those successes. We are refining our strategies within our four program areas to maximize the impact of our approach and to provide compelling case studies of our grantees’ work to our funding partners, and we hope inspiring them to meet grantees’ future needs. We will also empower grantees to seek out new resources by strengthening their ability to communicate success to potential funders.

What program changes are associated with the strategy?

JMF is revamping its four grant programs, strengthening the connections between programs and among our diverse grantees, and preparing to make complementary investments to maximize our impact until we close our doors. Our four program areas are:

  • The Developmental Disabilities Program will expand its focus from basic research to include clinical and translational research, with a primary emphasis on children who have Fragile X syndrome or Down syndrome;
  • Clean Energy Program grants will promote the development of a clean energy economy in the six-state New England region;
  • Health and Environment Program grants will support development and implementation of market signals and government policies across the country that encourage a transition away from petroleum-based chemicals linked to preventable diseases; and
  • Regional Food Systems Program grants will help strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship in New England’s expanding market for regionally and sustainably grown food.

Is there precedent for this strategy, and what lessons can we draw from other funders?

Funders such as Atlantic Philanthropies and the Brainerd Foundation are also in the process of implementing spendout strategies. The Beldon Fund is a great example of a foundation that successfully completed a spendout strategy (in 2008).

Whether they have issued their final grant, or will soon, these funders have helped pave the way for what spendout strategies mean and how they can be an effective tool for making lasting change. JMF is committed to being communicative about this process, to share our best stories and to help our grantees transition in the coming years.