Growth of the Mellon Foundation's Endowment and its Grantmaking
The Mellon Foundation was created in 1969 with $273 million in assets following the consolidation of the Avalon Foundation and the Old Dominion Foundation. The assets of the new organization were augmented with additional funds from the estate of Ailsa Mellon Bruce, and, by 1970, Mellon had assets of $700 million. By 1980, the last year Mellon received a payout from Ailsa Mellon Bruce's estate, our assets had grown to $880 million. Since 1969 we have paid out almost $6 billion in grants.
Mellon's endowment totaled approximately $8.2 billion at the end of 2020.
The goal in managing the portfolio is to preserve and increase its purchasing power, enabling Mellon to provide grants in perpetuity. To achieve this goal we maintain a portfolio that is well diversified across five asset classes with different risk and return characteristics to generate strong long-term returns.
The portfolio must maintain a certain minimum level of liquidity that is sufficient to fund our grantmaking activity and ongoing expenses, including capital calls, even during periods of market dislocation.
The chart below shows Mellon's current long-term asset allocation plan.