The McCune Foundation was established as a limited-life foundation, to exist for fifty years after the death of its benefactor, Charles L. McCune. Over the past seven years, the McCune Foundation Distribution Committee and staff have developed plans to sunset the Foundation by
October 2029, in accordance with Mr. McCune’s wishes. This Sunset Strategy has significantly changed the nature of the McCune Foundation’s grantmaking from its earlier incarnations.
The broad mission of the McCune Foundation is to support nonprofit organizations that advance the quality of life for the people of southwestern Pennsylvania by fostering community vitality and economic growth to improve the region for current and future generations. Historically, the Foundation’s grantmaking has focused on four areas: Education, Human Services, Humanities, and Civic.
The Foundation’s Sunset Strategy adheres to three guiding principles for the Distribution Committee and staff:
1. Leave it better than we found it.
2. Finish well the things we have started.
3. Don’t start new things we cannot finish well.
These three directives make it very unlikely that the Foundation will initiate or respond to the following types of requests:
Requests from organizations with which it has not worked during the first 39 years of operations.
Capital campaigns, particularly those that seek significant investments for facilities, endowment and/or new programs.
Requests for ongoing program or operating support.
Investments in expanded or new operations, even to organizations with which the Foundation has significant history, unless those expansions are directly related to the core mission of the organization, and expand revenue-producing opportunities well into the future.
The McCune Foundation focuses its grants in southwestern Pennsylvania, principally the Pittsburgh area. Unsolicited proposals from outside the region are not accepted.
The McCune Foundation places a high value on the historical work in which it has been engaged, as well as on the relationships with organizations that have helped carry out its mission. Therefore, ending well, by accelerating a body of work or helping organizations achieve stronger operations or service delivery, is at the heart of the Sunset Strategy.
Sunset Grants can be designed for transformational or incremental results, depending on the opportunity at hand and the capacity of the organization. A set of tenets was developed that encapsulates the Foundation’s intent for its final engagements. Sunset Grants should be:
Viewed as permanent, “living” assets that continue well beyond the term of a grant;
Additive to an organization’s core mission, helping to accelerate activities in new ways; and
A base for more sustainable operations well into the future.
The Foundation will likely not consider unsolicited requests for a Sunset Grant. Alternatively, a Sunset Grant will be the culmination of a series of one-on-one conversations with grantees. Foundation staff has begun engaging many of its historical grantees in conversations about potential Sunset Grants. However, if your organization has a significant history with the McCune Foundation, and you would like to discuss the possibility of submitting a concept paper for a Sunset Grant, please contact Grants Manager Valerie Fahrny for more information.
Until 2012, the Standard Grants program had been the primary means by which the Foundation accomplished its mission. With the development of the Sunset Strategy, more resources are being allocated to enable Sunset engagements. Moreover, the Standard Grants program has been redefined to support several aspects of the Sunset Strategy. Examples include:
Ending Well grants are focused on finishing work with organizations that will not likely receive a larger final Sunset Grant.
Readiness grants address business model changes or other organizational obstacles that could challenge an organization’s ability to receive a Sunset grant.
Concept Testing grants allow potential Sunset grantees to “test” a project or idea in advance of consideration for a Sunset grant.
Special Project grants allow for consideration of opportunities that may not fall neatly into one of the aforementioned grant categories.
Where possible, the Foundation will prioritize projects that leave an organization in a stronger place (diversified revenue, improved capacity, program enhancements, leadership transitions, etc.). As with Sunset Grants, it is recommended that organizations interested in applying for a
Standard Grant contact Foundation staff to discuss eligibility and alignment with the Sunset Strategy.
To apply for consideration, please go to the Foundation’s Grantee Portal for further instructions.
If a project meets current funding priorities and sufficient resources are available, Foundation staff will contact the applicant to provide guidance regarding next steps in the application process. Beginning in 2019, the Foundation’s Distribution Committee will meet three times a year. The increased level of Foundation involvement that the Sunset Strategy entails means that it will usually take several months for consideration to be given to new projects.