What Does This Unusual Big Gift to TBF Mean for Boston Nonprofits?

We recently highlighted The Boston Foundation’s emergency grants that are going towards protecting the city’s most vulnerable groups. But we’ve been big fans of TBF’s Open Door Grants program since we first heard about it because it provides a way to step outside normal giving areas and respond to pressing needs. Now comes news of a nice score for TBF: A surprising donation estimated at $28 million which will boost the foundation's giving capacity. 

The Boston Globe reported that a Boston-area business is being sold and plans to basically donate itself to charity. It’s a bit complicated how this arrangement will play out, but we’ll give you the Cliff Notes.

An education technology company called Curriculum Associates is transferring most of its ownership to the Iowa State University Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization based at the founder’s alma mater. ISU plans to sell those non-voting shares of the company and give some of the proceeds to The Boston Foundation.

This is good news for the nonprofit community in Boston because $28 million is a lot of money and TBF funds in a lot of areas. This isn’t the largest grant that TBF has ever received, but it’s definitely up there on the list. It actually marks the fourth time that the funder has been gifted $20 million or more.

Here are the key points you should know:

Unrestricted Grantmaking Will Increase

Once TBF has the money, it plans to put a good part of it into its $300 million Permanent Fund, which allows for flexible giving and unrestricted grants. (In contrast to the various earmarked funds set up different donors at TBF.) That's important, because as President and CEO Paul S. Grogan explained, TBF's Permanent Fund is a "principal charitable resource for the many nonprofits working on our region’s greatest challenges.”

He also said about the gift: “The fact that it contributes resources to the Permanent Fund for Boston is a tremendous validation of the need for flexible community resources that can seed innovation and respond deftly to the needs of our times.”

Education Grantmaking Will Increase

In a press release, Grogan shared, “The Boston Foundation shares the passion Curriculum Associates has for creating opportunities for students and educators in our region.” This is good news for Boston Public Schools and education nonprofits that work with the school system. It isn’t yet clear how much of the big gift will be going towards education grantmaking.

Aside from the portion of the Curriculum Associates money that will go into TBF’s Permanent Fund, the company will also create a new donor-advised fund and choose individual nonprofits to support. Since 1969, Curriculum Associates has been pursuing a mission of making classrooms better for teachers and students, so we expect these grants to be highly targeted at education. Also, the company is based in North Billerica, Massachusetts, so it’s already in-tune with statewide education needs. 

The Money Might Not Be Available for Up to Five Years

Now for the bad news: It may take up to five years before TBF has access to the funds from the shares sold. So be patient and keep watching TBF’s news section for more updates on this money.

RelatedIn Case You Missed It: TBF's Emergency Grants to Protect Vulnerable Groups