April 3, 2013 Update from FEX Board Chair Casey Cook

In December we wrote to inform you that the Funding Exchange Board of Directors had made the decision to cease all operations at the FEX national office. After further in-depth review of our financial status and consultation with our corporate counsel, we are writing now to tell you that on March 1, 2013 the Board of Directors voted unanimously to dissolve the Funding Exchange as a 501c3 non-profit corporation in the State of New York.

Please know that this was a very hard but carefully considered decision by the Funding Exchange Board of Directors. We have so much respect and admiration for FEX’s many capable leaders—including board members, staff, grants panel members, donors and grantees—and the meaningful impact we’ve made together for over three decades. We look forward to engaging all of FEX’s stakeholders in celebrating and learning from this remarkable legacy.

The Board of Directors will now prepare a plan for dissolution, which must be approved by the Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York. The legal process of dissolving a nonprofit in New York is complicated and we are told to expect that the process may last as long as nine months. We will keep you and all Funding Exchange stakeholders informed as we reach various benchmarks along this path.

Next steps at the Funding Exchange will include:

  • FEX administrative efforts will continue to wind down. A professional interim staff has been hired to ensure an orderly closure.
  • All outstanding obligations will be met, both grant commitments and the disposition of Donor Advised Funds. If you are a Donor Advised Fund holder at FEX and have not yet made arrangements for the disposition of your funds in June, we encourage you to contact Interim Executive Director Richard Burns at richard.burns@fex.org or (212) 529-5300.
  • The Board has retained the services of Rudder Properties Group, a commercial brokerage that specializes in the sale of office condominiums in Manhattan, to market and sell the FEX office. Interested parties may contact Michael Rudder at mrudder@rudderpg.com or 646-415-6168.
  • Any remaining assets will be distributed based on the original charter and founding intent of FEX’s founders, and consistent with FEX’s mission and purpose.
  • The important history of the organization will be chronicled, both to preserve the FEX legacy and to inform the work of others committed to social justice philanthropy moving forward.

At the FEX Board meeting retreat during the first weekend of March, there was deep reflection throughout, and many moments of sadness and poignant silence. The process was respectful, collaborative, inclusive and thoughtful. The group benefited from the wisdom, commitment and participation of long-time supporters, founding members, as well as representatives and executive directors from FEX member funds.

Most importantly, the vibrant network of member funds around the country, now numbering 16 from the original six who founded the Funding Exchange, ended on a note of renewed commitment to and enthusiasm for grassroots-led social justice philanthropy. Ultimately, the Board made the decision to dissolve the organization based on careful scrutiny of the organization’s finances and the assessment that the sustainability of the national office was no longer viable.

After a months-long process of strategic deliberation, there was “vehement agreement” on the decision to dissolve FEX, and also on the desire to advance the work of the 16 member funds, each one of which offers forward-looking philanthropists an extraordinary opportunity to support work towards justice and social change.

You will hear from us again, but for now let us state once more how proud we are of the work accomplished by so many through the Funding Exchange. Across its 30 years as a philanthropic network, countless productive relationships have been born, and movements for social justice have been strengthened at the local, regional and national level. This work will continue, of course, both through the efforts of the regional foundations that have comprised the FEX network and through the broader field of social justice philanthropy which FEX stakeholders have profoundly shaped.

In the interest of our shared history and commitment to social justice, the FEX Board is exploring ideas to preserve FEX’s legacy and learnings, and most importantly, ways to continue to preserve and build the work for the future. We are considering several formats to do this – convenings, archiving, and historical documentation and analysis – and are reviewing the viability of each with regard to remaining resources and capacity. Please let us know your interest in participating in any of the projects if they should move forward by completing a brief online survey here.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Interim Executive Director, Richard Burns, at (12) 529-5300.

Sincerely, for the Funding Exchange Board of Directors,

 

Casey Cook
FEX Board Chair