Charity on a deadline

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Why spend-down philanthropy, in which a wealthy person puts money aside to address an issues of their choosing by a certain date, is seeing a surge in popularity.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed more than $500 million to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Twitter TWTR, +5.72% CEO Jack Dorsey pledged $1 billion for coronavirus relief and later added racial justice organizations to his list of beneficiaries. MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon AMZN, +1.46% CEO Jeff Bezos, has handed out $1.7 billion to address the pandemic, racial justice and other issues.

The moment has also brought new momentum to a less popular style of philanthropy: Spend-down, or time-limited, philanthropy, in which charitable foundations spend their assets by a certain date, then close up shop.

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