OVERVIEW: The Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation’s grantmaking focuses on a pretty wide range of diseases, including those related to the eyes, autism, cancer and cystic fibrosis, to name a few.
IP TAKE: This foundation flies way under the radar and isn’t the most accessible of funders out there. However, its widespread disease related grantmaking makes it noteworthy.
PROFILE: The Gund name is well-known in philanthropy circles, especially in the Midwest. When wealthy banker and investor George Gund passed away in the 1960s, he endowed his foundation with more than half a billion dollars, creating one of the more weighty and active philanthropies in the region. George’s son, Gordon and wife Llura have two foundations that serve as a vehicle for their family’s giving, the largest being the Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation.
In 1970, at age 30, Gordon Gund lost his sight to retinitis pigmentosa. Since then, he and Llura have been heavily active in research on blindness and eye diseases. In 1971, they established the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which represents by far their largest philanthropic cause.
The other big cause for the Gunds is autism research. While it’s not clear if there’s another personal connection here, the couple gives a lot to the study of autism spectrum disorders.
One unique thing about the Gund foundation’s giving: while it has a couple of favorite issues, it’s also active in a wider range of areas, with a long trail of smaller grants to a variety of medical research causes.
While that may be a good sign for those seeking funds, the bad news is that the foundation is about as black as the boxes get. It seems to be almost purely the work of the Gunds and their philanthropic interests. The foundation has no staff, there are no public guidelines or procedures, and the only record of giving appears to be in tax filings.
But the sheer size of the foundation’s annual giving means it absolutely shouldn't be overlooked, particularly for those working in blindness or autism. But accessing the foundation will require significant networking and calling upon cheerleaders with some connection to the couple.
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The Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation
14 Nassau Street
Princeton, NJ 08542-0449