Tuesday, June 4News That Matters

Rasmuson Foundation takes a break from grants as new leaders come on board for a reset


Rasmuson Foundation pauses grantmaking to recalibrate under new leadership

The Rasmuson Foundation, a major force in Alaska’s philanthropic community, has announced that it will be taking a temporary break from grantmaking to focus on recalibrating its operations under new leadership. Gretchen Guess, who was named president and CEO earlier this year, explained that the pause is a necessary step to ensure that the foundation’s internal systems keep up with its rapid growth.

This decision comes at a time when charitable giving is facing challenges across the nation, with charitable giving falling in 2022 and high inflation affecting budgets. Despite these challenges, the Rasmuson Foundation has already given out more than $35 million in grants this year to fund a wide range of causes throughout Alaska. The foundation plans to resume grantmaking in the middle of 2024.

The transition in leadership has been significant, with the passing of longtime board chairman Ed Rasmuson and the departure of CEO Diane Kaplan, who had been with the organization for 27 years. Adam Gibbons, the foundation’s current board chairman, has emphasized that the organization remains committed to its mission of supporting Alaskans and will not shift its focus towards priorities in the Lower 48.

While the temporary pause in grantmaking may have raised concerns among grant recipients and potential applicants, the foundation’s leaders have reassured that they are committed to maintaining communication and relationships during this period. They also stressed that the pause is not a result of poor financial performance or a significant drop in the foundation’s endowment.

One area of focus for the foundation moving forward will be addressing homelessness statewide, an issue that has been a significant concern in many communities. Despite the pause in grantmaking, the foundation’s commitment to addressing the needs of Alaskans remains unwavering.

The decision to pause grantmaking has also brought attention to the challenges facing Alaska’s nonprofits, many of which rely on philanthropic support. Nonprofit organizations make up a significant portion of Alaska’s economy and have faced tough financial conditions due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pause in grantmaking is temporary, it underscores the need for continued support for nonprofits as they navigate these challenges.

Overall, the foundation’s leaders see the pause as an opportunity to improve their operations and ensure that they can continue to effectively support the needs of Alaskans in the future. Despite the challenges, they remain committed to their mission and are confident that the pause will ultimately lead to more efficient and impactful grantmaking in the long run.