Foundation Projects

Organizational Building for Family Foundation:

A family started a foundation several years ago and began making yearly grants to public charities. However, the family did not have any specific goals, and family interest in the philanthropic endeavors were mixed. The participants generally liked the idea of philanthropy but did not feel engaged.

The family hired us to assist in making the process more meaningful for the family. We held a retreat where the family members were asked to dream about their respective visions for the foundation, and how they saw themselves participating. After the visioning process, the family was able to agree on a mission statement, identify core values they all agreed should be part of all their work, and establish next steps for proceeding toward a more engaged philanthropic effort.

Over the next several years of meetings, we helped the family learn how to operate much like a large foundation, including learning how to run efficient meetings, how to delegate tasks to committees, how to establish internal policies, and how to conduct due diligence of prospective grantees. While initially skeptical about this organizational process, the family began to see the organizational framework they created as way to set them free to more efficiently conduct their philanthropy.

Additionally, we are now helping the family further hone the foundation’s mission and identify the best ways for this family to engage in meaningful philanthropy. The end result has been more satisfied participation by family members and greater philanthropic successes. In addition, the public charities the family has worked with have expressed their appreciation for the way in which the family collaborates with them.

Guidance Manual for Operating Foundation:

After being the subject of an IRS audit a foundation asked for guidance on how to make sure they never violated any of the foundation rules. The organization had essentially become fearful of making almost any kind of move because the tax rules were so confusing to its board and staff.

We wanted to provide the foundation a guidance document that board members and staff could understand with minimal effort, and be free from having to consult with a professional on most of its activities. We did this through a guidebook tailored to that organization’s needs. It identified the rules that would likely be applicable to the board and staff based on the types of activities they engage in. One of the ways we made the tax rules “palatable” was to provide hypothetical examples relevant to that organization that showed how an applicable rule would apply to real life situations the organization might encounter. Through these hypotheticals, we explained those situations where it would be safe to proceed, those where it was not, and those where caution dictated obtaining additional guidance before taking action. We also provided more detailed support materials for those on the board and staff who wanted to dig deeper into the issues.

This foundation can now conduct its philanthropic work with greater efficiency because it has a clearer understanding of when the rules might restrict its activities.

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