A lot harder than it looks.
While grantmaking seems easy, it’s challenging to provide philanthropic resources that create possibilities and opportunities for communities. In fact, a lot of questions need to be answered:
- “What impact do we want to have?”
- “What is our geographic scope?”
- “What are the biggest needs in our community that we can actually address?
- “What can we do to strengthen people, organizations and communities?”
- “How will we know whether we are truly making a difference?”
- "What unique role can we fulfill that others can’t or won’t?”
- “How will our legacy be upheld across generations?”
We’ve helped many foundations answer these questions and more. That’s why we know to ask the “questions behind the questions” that help you move the needle effectively.
As an advisor, we understand the larger philanthropic landscape in your city or state. And while our roots are in Atlanta and the Southeast, we have a network of contacts that can help foundations nation-wide.
From a strategy perspective, we work to provide data-driven insights, so you can make better decisions. We know what’s cutting edge and have experience and knowledge from a number of successes and missteps.
We can’t decide what’s right for you. We can offer talent, tools and resources to help you make the best decisions possible.
We help you ensure your family’s legacy.
While these are great ways to signify your legacy within a community, a family foundation can help instill your values and traditions, maintain family ties, and develop real-world skills in younger generations.
As a private foundation, you can create a blueprint for giving, gain income tax and estate-tax benefits, and make contributions that can alter the trajectory of people’s lives. As the world evolves and your family expands, your foundation can progress as well.
Plus, we have extensive experience with the inter-family dynamic. We provide structure and proven methodology, draw upon our experience of philanthropic, nonprofit, and corporate strategy work, encourage honest dialogue, set parameters when needed, and keep the process moving toward dynamic and realistic solutions.
We know how to help a group of strong individuals with divergent ways of thinking and multiple opinions move toward shared understanding and agreement about strategic direction.
When you’re ready to move forward, we’re ready to help. We’ve worked with a number of family foundations over the years – and are ready to serve yours.
The leaders of tomorrow. Today.
Planning and succession is one of the most important issues facing family foundations – and preparing future generations for leadership and responsibility comes with both concerns and opportunities.
There can be many members in a family, each with their own specialties and talents to bring to a family foundation or organization. Not to mention critical family dynamics at hand. Here are some of the issues facing families, as they prepare future generations:
- How do family members get chosen for the board of directors?
- What are their terms?
- How long are they involved?
- What do they do to learn?
I’ve got experience dealing with families and foundations of all sizes.
I’m here to help!
There are many ways to give. There are also many ways to increase your impact.
If you’re here, you likely have a grasp of the philanthropic landscape.
You’ve begun your foundation, you have your team in place, and you’ve got a small cadre of attorneys, CPAs, and seasoned professionals working toward its success.
But maybe you’ve run into issues you haven’t seen before – things beyond staffing, operations, and procedures. Or maybe you need a hand on the big picture stuff regarding governance, strategy and beyond.
We help many foundations achieve their aspirations. Board governance, strategic frameworks, executive coaching and alignment of multiple partners are but a few of our services.
Our method is to facilitate your ideas and build a shared understanding and viewpoint about the future, not to tell you what we believe should be done. What we really offer is resolution, success and results.
So, whether you’re an independent, family, or corporate foundation, we’ve already helped someone like you, and know to ask the “questions behind the questions” to get you where you’re going.
It’s good to make a profit. It’s great to make an impact.
Expectations for corporations have never been higher.
In addition to meeting fiduciary duties, publicly-traded companies are expected to be cognizant of ESG (environmental, social and governance) standards, which help measure a company’s overall impact on the world – not just its bottom line.
And while corporate social responsibility has long been a trend, your customers are also likely doing business with companies who have charitable giving as part of their business model.
If your company is doing well, a corporate foundation can be a great way to build up a charitable reserve in years of higher profit, as well as fund grants for 501C-3 organizations, pay employee matching grants, administer scholarship programs for employees’ family members and more.
We have a history of helping companies of all sizes make a positive impact, bolster their community reputation, and become great corporate citizens. And these efforts are more than just PR – studies have shown that “doing good” can translate to better sales and employee retention.
Ultimately, we help companies use philanthropy to make their local communities great places to live, work and play. We’d love to help you.
It takes a village just to give.
The saying is true. It takes a village. But how to properly manage that village? How to best serve it? And who to appoint as its leaders?
As a philanthropic organization, your mission is to improve the lives of people in your geographic area. That mission starts with the team you appoint to achieve this goal. And the generous donors who make it all possible.
You not only have a responsibility to manage their investments wisely, but also grow an endowment that will continually benefit the community.
As a grant-making public charity, you’ll deal with a number of instruments such as donor-advised funds, endowments, scholarships, field-of-interest funds (and more). None of which are easy to navigate, per se.
Luckily, I have experience in all aspects of community foundations – creating strategic frameworks, selecting a board of directors, and more. Ultimately, I work to improve charitable outcomes on all levels – in the community, and for donors.
Starting a foundation without a purpose is like holding a race with no finish line.
How do we help? We’ll help you work through the most important questions first:
- Why are we starting this foundation?
- What’s the mission?
- What are the community needs?
- Who will benefit?
These questions and more may seem like simple things. But years of experience have taught us the nuances of getting the right answers – and helping lay groundwork for your values, strategic direction and impact.
You need a map to get where you’re going.
Like most worthwhile endeavors, there isn't an instruction manual for starting or reinventing your foundation. Beginning your mission takes energy, enthusiasm, the right people, and clear goals.
However, here are a few general stages to the initial foundation planning we typically observe:
- Pre-formation planning (Your purpose and goals?)
- Formal incorporation (Trust or corporation?)
- Obtaining tax-exempt status from the IRS (501? Which kind?)
Of course, many more important steps and considerations need to occur. Things like geographic scope, why you exist, how you will know you are making progress, your board structure, and more.
We’ll help you with all these things. You just bring your willingness to explore, learn and make decisions.
With every great opportunity comes a challenge
So … you’ve got money you’d like to give away. What could go wrong?
Apart from checking intentions, motivations and egos (No small feat, right?) there are many other challenges you’ll face.
Preserving capital and ensuring income to cover spending needs is just a start. There are large strategic issues that are specific to each foundation, such as aligning donor goals with their own priorities, as well as managing income streams across fund administration, fundraising and assorted services.
Here are just a sampling of the other challenges you might face:
- Evolving with the community’s needs.
- Investing for grantmaking over time horizons
- Incorporating and managing new ways to generate funds
And that doesn’t even start to touch staffing.
We’ll be glad to help you with a roadmap that can handle these challenges more easily as they arise – so you’re not blindsided when they occur!
Not just who. But also how.
When we think of governance, we usually think, “Who’s running the show? And who’s helping them?”.
But governance is more than that. It’s also about the process of making decisions for the organization, including how it’s structured, as well as the duty of care you exercise to stay on point and fulfill your purpose.
Often, as a foundation matures, its purpose evolves. A large part of governance includes taking a look at the original vision of the founders – and making sure your current work aligns with the original vision, as well as community needs.
Governance also asks the questions that need to be asked:
- Are all funds accounted for?
- Are we in observance of all laws and regulations?
- Are assets managed properly?
- Are operations running efficiently?
- What are the roles and expectations of board members?
- How do we make decisions about board responsibilities?
- How do we build our bench strength for future staff and board members?
- How do we gain clarity and alignment about board vs staff roles and responsibilities?
The toughest part of governance is the process of making decisions. How you evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of your organization will determine how well things are run!
Who do you trust to guide your organization?
How, exactly, do you identify and ask important, highly-skilled, well-connected people to give their time, expertise, and emotional labor to your organization – at little-to-no-cost?
Doesn’t seem so easy, huh? It doesn’t have to feel like a Herculean challenge.
When putting together a board of directors for your foundation, consider these questions:
- What skills, connections and industries are most helpful to your foundation’s needs and goals?
- How do you orient your board members – and properly introduce them to stakeholders and the community?
- To what extent do your board members represent our community?
- In what ways can your board members be ambassadors for your foundation?
- How big should your board be? Why?
Of course, even a well-selected board needs a little guidance, such as a board governance committee.
All told, we’ll help you find the checks and balances and right solutions for your foundation’s Board of Trustees.