Toward the end of his career, noted economist John Kenneth Galbraith collaborated with the BBC to create a television series and book called “The Age of Uncertainty” that described the history and insecurities of 20th century economics. That title seems appropriate to the particular age in which we now live, and the issues that characterize it, some of which are hyper-partisanship in Washington, D.C., global climate change and a painfully slow recovery from the worst financial crisis in a half-century. These and other issues of contemporary life can give rise to important questions about the path ahead. These challenges frame much of our thinking about how to focus our grantmaking strategy.

However, we are also concerned about the performance of the investment markets. Our grant resources are derived from our invested assets, and we closely observe and evaluate market trends. Like most other foundations we cut our expenses and grants in 2009 in response to the market collapse. We acted in a manner that we deemed prudent under the circumstances, even as we increased the percentage of our assets that we distributed in order to minimize the impact on grantees. As 2010 began, the markets were less tumultuous, yet more than the usual uncertainty remains. Our assets have rebounded though they have not recovered their pre-recession value.

Events of the recent past have reinforced for us the importance of two themes in our approach to philanthropy. One is the vital necessity of collaborations. The other is continued emphasis on public policy. We value collaborations for many reasons, but especially prize the leverage and efficiency that can be achieved by working together in difficult times. Our foundation seeks and promotes collaborations within philanthropy, among nonprofit grantees and with other sectors. Examples abound; one instance worth applauding is the organized group of funders who are working together to help human services organizations achieve greater good through new approaches to collaboration between these organizations. This effort is being led well by the Deaconess Community Foundation and the Saint Luke’s Foundation. We are pleased to be part of it.

We have long supported public policy advocacy that supports the work of our grantees. The economic distress of the past couple of years has served to highlight the importance of advocacy. Local and state budgets have been under unprecedented strain while the federal government has sought to stimulate economic recovery with targeted increases in spending. Through many grants in virtually all of our program areas, we have sought to help grantees shape public policy responses in this environment that would aid in transforming public education, make Cleveland a model of sustainability, greatly improve the prospects of poor children and achieve many other important goals. We will continue to do so.

Anna Traggio, a granddaughter of the Foundation’s founder, became a Trustee at the end of 2009. We heartily welcome her to the Board.

Geoffrey Gund

Geoffrey Gund
President and Treasurer

The George Gund Foundation
1845 Guildhall Building
45 Prospect Avenue, West
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
Phone 216 241.3114
Fax 216 241.6560