The Brainerd Foundation's philosophy was to deploy whatever resources, strategies, and tools were necessary to achieve its goals.
Most foundations use budgeting formulas designed to preserve endowments and ensure operations in perpetuity. This was never the case at the Brainerd Foundation, and our annual grantmaking typically exceeded the minimum required by law, even before we began our spendout.
We recognized that the ecological challenges our funding region and the planet faced were urgent, and so we made the decision to spend out our endowment. We believed our dollars could have a greater impact if we didn't hold back.
In our final years, we continued with our long-standing programs in conservation policy and place-based conservation, and turned the attentions of our Conservation Capacity Program to three final sunset initiatives. These were focused on strengthening the next generation of Northwest conservation philanthropists, leaders, and advocates.
This initiative invested in the development of a community of high-potential conservation philanthropists that were knowledgeable about opportunities to make a meaningful impact.
This initiative supported new leaders entering the conservation movement and prepared emerging leaders to play more significant roles in conservation organizations.
This initiave supported groups committed to learning from each other and building stronger models of effective advocacy. These investments were designed to help our grantees be more adaptive, resilient, and sustainable.
As we advanced toward our close, difficult choices had to be made and long-time partnerships with grantees ended. The decision to end funding of particular groups sooner rather than later was not a reflection of the quality of their work, but rather an imperative of our sunset. We committed to giving substantial prior notice of changes in funding and collaborated with groups in the design of final grants, to ensure organizational sustainability.