As a foundation board member, you have the awesome — and sometimes totally intimidating — responsibility of making important financial decisions.

Lots of foundations are starting to look at their investment strategy as a way to increase the impact of their philanthropic dollars.

How can we make sure that all our family members are empowered to participate in these profoundly important financial conversations?

The very first step is definitely getting clear on the lingo. Make sure you know the difference between common investment categories, the types of costs and fees, and terms of measurement. (Here’s a helpful glossary of investment terms compiled by J.P. Morgan)

Then, head over to NCFP’s Policy Central to check out some sample investment policies and statements. The more familiar you are with reading these documents, the easier it will be to make sense of your own foundation’s investment policies.

Next, get clear on your foundation’s current asset allocation and investment strategy. Don’t be afraid to ask technical questions. Try to pursue as thoroughly as possible the reasons your family has for its investment strategy. You may want to sit down with your investment manager to talk through the details of the foundation’s portfolios.

Take a look at Generations Together Module 2: Unit 5 on all things “Investment Approach” for more activities to prepare you to understand and actively participate in your family foundation's investment strategy.