A Note on the Economy

The final chapter of the global economic crisis has yet to be written, but with many in the nonprofit community doubtless worried about how to weather the hard times, we wanted to take a moment to share our thoughts and plans.

The Hewlett Foundation and the organizations we support make long-term commitments to solve serious social and environmental problems worldwide, and work to support disadvantaged communities and enhance cultural life in the Bay Area.  We and our grantees take a strategic approach to our work that demands clear goals, an ability to realize them, and objective means to measure progress. This, in our view, is always important, but even more so in times of scarcity. While many extremely good organizations will be rightly paying attention to the immediate problems that the current economic troubles have caused, we recognize the need to keep sight of long-term goals. This economic crisis eventually will recede, but the long-term problems many of us seek to address will remain.

Like many other institutions, not to mention individuals, the Hewlett Foundation has experienced a sharp decline in its assets. Our response is motivated by the principle that, insofar as possible, our grantees should have the resources they need to achieve our shared goals.

We plan to honor grant commitments made in 2008 and previous years, and we also plan to increase the percentage of our endowment that will be paid out in grants in 2009.  However, it is likely that the Foundation won’t embark on some new initiatives that we otherwise might have considered. And despite the increase in the payout rate, next year’s grantmaking will likely be reduced by approximately five to seven percent compared to 2008.

For more than forty years, the Hewlett Foundation and its many dedicated and hardworking grantees have been working to fulfill the goals of Bill and Flora Hewlett and their family for a better world.  This work will continue, undeterred, through the current economic hardships and long into the future.

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