50 million beyond the number | City of Ideas

Posted 09/15/2017 by Paul S. Grogan, President & CEO


It’s been a big week at the Boston Foundation.

We are honored, humbled and touched by the announcement this week that Curriculum Associates will be giving the Foundation $50 million - the largest single gift in our 102-year history. Beyond the number, though, there are three elements of this particular gift which make it even more special in our work. 

First, a significant portion, at least $10 million, of the gift, is earmarked for the Permanent Fund for Boston.

 The Permanent Fund is the unrestricted fund from which a vast percentage of our “discretionary” grants come - in our strategy areas like the arts, education, health, housing and jobs and workforce development. It’s where much of the money for our special grant programs, like our grassroots program funding, Open Door Grants and others comes from.
It’s the Permanent Fund that makes it possible for the Boston Foundation to fund innovation, address new and emerging challenges and be “There at the Beginning,” as we have been in the past for more than 100 of today's Boston’s most iconic and inspiring nonprofits.

It’s also our work with nonprofits we support with grants from the Permanent Fund that helps give us even greater insights into the power of local nonprofits that in turn, we can recommend or connect with our donors to make their own gifts through Donor Advised Funds. We are partners in philanthropy with more than 1,000 donors, and we look forward to a continued partnership with Curriculum Associates through their DAF.

Second, this gift highlights an often overlooked part of working with the Boston Foundation, or other community foundations. 

This gift wasn’t cash, it was initially a stake in Curriculum Associates. Our formerly-largest gift, $31.6 million, was a stake in a cruise ship. Another of our largest gifts was real estate valued at $19 million. The Boston Foundation is skilled at working with people with these “complex assets,” from restricted stock, to real estate, to items like the pottery collection of world-renowned ceramicist Thomas Bezanson - which today funds the Brother Thomas Fellows scholarships for emerging artists.

Third, it highlights the power of community and good works. 

We were selected by Curriculum Associates because we have a track record of doing good in the community. That is an honor and privilege. But we also were selected because members of our professional advisor community with whom we have built connections recommended us. That’s truly special. It recognizes that in philanthropy, the goal is not just maximizing the tax value of the donation. It’s maximizing the impact of the resources.

Bringing together people and resources to solve Boston’s biggest challenges takes connections that are far more complex than just donor-recipient or grant maker-grantee. It takes a community. And we are proud and thankful for the communities we have built together over time - and the communities we serve.

Now let’s go solve some problems.