State of the Spend Out: Reflections, Evolutions, and Curiosities

The Kataly Foundation
5 min readFeb 9, 2023


This week, the Kataly Foundation hosted State of the Spend Out, a webinar sharing an overview of our grantmaking in 2022, how our work is evolving, and the questions and goals guiding us in 2023.

Infographic sharing some of the ways Kataly supported our grantee partners in 2022.

During the webinar, the Kataly team shared:

  • A closer look at our grantmaking last year, including a breakdown of the type of support we provided to grantees
  • Highlights from the first year of our capacity building program
  • The key questions and considerations guiding our investment strategy
  • An overview of our organizational logic model, connecting our strategies and activities to our theory of change and the impact we want to achieve
  • A preview of how we are determining our approach to evaluation

We closed the webinar with a 30 minute Q&A session. Participants asked us excellent questions, including how we incorporate grantee perspectives in our decision-making, how we encourage partnerships among grantees, the community land work we support, the challenges and opportunities of philanthropic advocacy, and much more.

Watch the recording of the webinar and read on for some key insights:

Introduction by Nwamaka Agbo, CEO of the Kataly Foundation and Managing Director of the Restorative Economies Fund

Overview of 2022 Grantmaking: 2:40

  • Danielle Royston-Lopez, Grants and Program Associate

Highlights from our Capacity Building program: 11:00

  • Jocelyn Wong, Director of Capacity Building and Analyst of the Restorative Economies Fund

Investment Strategy: 19:20

  • Lynne Hoey, Chief Investment Officer

Logic Model Presentation: 30:20

  • Nwamaka Agbo, CEO of the Kataly Foundation and Managing Director of the Restorative Economies Fund

Evaluation and Data: 43:45

  • Danielle Royston-Lopez, Grants and Program Associate

Q&A: 46:00

Key Learnings and Reflections:

On the existential questions Kataly contends with:
“What is the role of private family foundations in this political moment? How do we make the highest and best use of our resources? What is our responsibility to our social movements? How do we figure out how to move in just and right relationship?

And as a spend out, how do we manage the expectations that others have of us, our commitment to our grantees, while also being able to make the necessary strategic decisions to help us achieve our mission? How are we accountable not just through our words but also through our actions as a foundation?”
— Nwamaka Agbo

On the importance of supporting land-based work:
As a spend-out foundation, we want to make sure that communities own the assets that they have and they continue to regenerate wealth and benefit long into the future. Land is being taken out of the speculative market and preserved for public good, like access to reliable and affordable housing; land is being stewarded to implement climate justice strategies that include food sovereignty campaigns or permaculture campaigns; land is being stewarded as a site for communities to have safe and sacred spaces to gather for collective healing strategies, ceremony, preservation of cultural practices; and land is being respected as a community wealth-building asset — not to have value extracted from, but to be stewarded for the benefit of all people.”
— Danielle Royston-Lopez

On how capacity building can support transformation and change:
“Social movements are fundamentally about transformation and change and yet the individuals and organizations that make up social movements are not always very well equipped to navigate change and adapt to new conditions — to actually be changed by the work in a way that makes us stronger, more resilient.

So ultimately the opportunity to focus on our ability to adapt and change is a central goal of ours. It’s our hope that when it comes time for Kataly to sunset, that we have contributed to increase our movement partners’ ability to embrace and manage change, as well as their capacity for adaptation.”
— Jocelyn Wong

On why Kataly got out of the equities market:
“Because in most foundations the investment strategy that’s within the endowment and the grantmaking strategy are separate, when the market has a bad year, like we just had, people reduce their grantmaking. But when the market’s up 20%, do people increase it? Not really, because they’re thinking about how to be in perpetuity. So for us, that feels like a very extractive relationship and we wanted no part in it, so we decided to get out of equities.”
— Lynne Hoey

On the challenges of aligning our investment strategy with our values:
“The racial wealth gap has created some major constraints for us in how we invest our funds. For example, Black-led community development financial institutions have six times less capital than many white-led institutions and therefore they don’t have the capacity to take on large amounts of capital, that is often required for investment in an endowment or in an unrestricted reserve. And so we are right now in a state of inquiry around how do we get closer to community with our investment strategy acknowledging that the racial wealth gap has really constricted our ability to do that?”
— Lynne Hoey

On aligning the Foundation with the voices of grantee partners:
“One big lesson that we’ve learned and continued to learn is the power of a high touch and strength-based approach when it comes to working with grantees, over a hands off approach. As someone who works in the grants administration space, what I have learned is that overcommunication of Kataly’s position and how we can show up with accountability for our community of grantees is better than no communication at all. This is something I continue to lean into and an area where we’re definitely exploring and growing into the question of what is possible in our relationship with grantees.”
— Danielle Royston-Lopez

On how to build out in community rather than build up internally:

“We tend to think of participatory grantmaking as both a vehicle and a strategy for moving more resources out into community. But we also see it as a power building strategy. So part of what we sit with as a foundation is: does it make sense for us to actually build up vehicles that sit within Kataly as a spend-out foundation or what does it look like to actually resource those vehicles that are sitting out in communities where communities have the power, the control, the access, and the opportunity to experiment with governing, and how to govern over resources together with one another?”
— Nwamaka Agbo

Additional resources for further reading:



The Kataly Foundation

The Kataly Foundation moves resources to support the economic, political, and cultural power of Black and Indigenous people, and all communities of color.