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RWJF Responds to Financial Crisis

October 31, 2008

Crisis_specsConfronted with shocking declines in their investment portfolios, foundations around the country are scrambling to make sense of and address the metastasizing global financial crisis. In PND today, we're running an item about the Hewlett Foundation's response to the crisis. And earlier this morning, I came across this message from Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest healthcare philanthropy:

We are in the midst of a global financial crisis that is both monumental and unprecedented in our lifetimes. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, like virtually everyone and every organization everywhere, has been affected directly by the turbulence and downturns in the financial markets over the past few months.

Yes, our financial assets are lower than they were earlier this year. But the long-term nature of our mission and our objectives, and the needs of and promises to our partners and grantees, dictates that we not react to daily fluctuations in the financial markets. The challenges we are addressing together are urgent, which is why we have set specific goals, objectives and time lines to achieve our goals.

During this uncertain time we want you to know one thing that is certain: We will maintain the level of our program budget and all existing commitments through the rest of this year. For 2009, we expect our program budget for grants to be approximately the same as 2008 levels, unless future financial circumstances warrant a course correction.

Improving the health and health care of all Americans is an enduring effort, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is in it -- and with you, our grantees and partners -- for the long haul.

Clearly, this is a glass-half-empty-half-full moment for U.S. foundations. The $64,000 question is how it will play out from here. Your thoughts?

-- Mitch Nauffts

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