Rasmuson Foundation cuts major grants in '09

Posted: Sunday, February 08, 2009

ANCHORAGE - The shaky economy has slashed the assets of a philanthropic Alaska foundation and that will mean fewer dollars going to nonprofit organizations.

A spokeswoman for the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska's largest private philanthropic organization, said it will award no large grants worth $25,000 or more this year.

Foundation President Diane Kaplan announced the bad news Friday to nonprofit representatives in Anchorage.

The news was not all bad.

The number of small-grant awards will remain about the same as last year, although the average amount of the grants will fall by one-third, Kaplan said.

Also, money for struggling artists will continue undiminished, she said.

The Rasmuson trust fund lost more than a third of its market value last year, largely due to the stock market collapse. Its $600 million in assets at the close of 2007 fell to an estimated $380 million by the end of 2008, Kaplan said.

The foundation is structurally bound to reduce its level of giving, which is calculated each year on a percentage of its average market value.

Most national foundations will give 25 to 30 percent less this year, Kaplan said. Rasmuson expects to reduce its overall grant payouts by 14 percent, from $22 million in 2008 to $19 million, she said.

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