John Miller’s piece also makes a brief reference to a subject with which he is very familiar: a philanthropic foundation that decides to spend itself out of existence.

It’s an idea that makes no sense for a household or a for-profit business. But Miller makes a compelling case (in book form) that wealthy people with philanthropic goals should plan to spend their money and not perpetuate foundations that outlive them for years.

His example is the subject of his book: The John M. Olin Foundation. Our Shaftesbury Society audience likely remembers the March presentation in which Miller outlined the story of Olin, who decided his foundation should not outlive him by more than a generation.

Olin foresaw that a foundation led by people with no connection to the original benefactor could devote its resources to causes that original benefactor would not have supported.