This past year was my first year as the Foundation’s President, and I was happy to have the opportunity to spend some time in the field with a number of our grantees. I deeply appreciated how committed the grantees are to protecting important landscapes and marine ecosystems, and am grateful for the time they took to share their work with me. I look forward to additional field visits in 2016, and to hearing about ongoing activities and progress.
In looking back to 2015, our grant program objectives were largely achieved. In particular, we note the following highlights:
- We increased our grant making in Western Montana’s High Divide region, based on insights learned from a report we commissioned by an outside consultant;
- We maintained strong support for fossil fuel campaigns in Washington and Alaska, including the Stand Up to Oil Campaign, which has organized in response to proposals for new oil-by-rail terminals and oil refineries in sensitive ecosystems of coastal Washington, Puget Sound and the Columbia River;
- We participated in a pilot leadership training project on Washington’s coast with Surfrider Foundation and other key funding partners, and are excited to support this work for the coming year; and
- We invested in ongoing efforts in Alaska to build a resilient and responsive environmental movement in the face of challenging economic and policy conditions.
The Harder Foundation invested a total of $1,380,000 in grants during 2015, remaining level with our payout in 2014. These grant levels represent a slow but steady recovery in our portfolio from the impact of the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Unfortunately, after several successive years of growth, 2015 was a more challenging investment year. The Foundation’s year-end asset level slipped 7.2% during 2015 to end the year at $33,718,501.
In 2016 we anticipate another challenging year for the financial markets, and subsequently that our grantmaking level will be significantly lower this year. Before making any adjustments to the grants portfolio, we will carefully review our current programs and with an eye toward maintaining as much as possible our current geographic and issue priorities. We regret that we will be unable to consider any expansion of our grant program this year.
In closing, I would like to once again thank all of our grantees for their amazing work. We feel deeply honored to support their solid efforts and are motivated by their selfless dedication to the causes and geographies that we mutually care so much about.