The Grasshopper or the Ant: A Review of Endowment Giving Policy Options

for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Arts Program

Russell Willis Taylor


   The Grasshopper or the Ant (53Kb)

Over the past decade, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has undertaken five initiatives with endowment components. (These initiatives are assessed in the November 2006 report to the DDCF from AEA Consulting.) This grant making has distributed significant resource to the performing arts throughout the United States and is nearing the end of a program cycle, giving rise to a policy review question about the impact of continued endowment giving. Without debating the benefits of the past programs, which have been very well received by grantees, for consideration now is future policy. Do endowment gifts most effectively advance the mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Arts Program going forward?

Written at the request of program staff at the Foundation, this paper is intended to provoke discussion about the tradition, necessity, and benefits of endowment funds in the arts. It provides a point of view about alternatives to endowment funding which are available to arts organizations, and poses questions about how endowments help achieve mission. The paper reflects research and analysis of a broad sampling of the literature on this subject (refer to bibliography), and also reflects the operational experience of the author in the performing and visual arts.