Ask the Center Posts

We’re a Family: How Can We Be Diverse?

Posted by Wendy Wehr on May 15, 2012

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on the Minnesota Council on Foundations’ Philanthropy Potluck Blog, and is used with MCOF’s permission. During discussions of diversity in philanthropy, family grantmakers sometimes get frustrated. Their thoughts may immediately turn to: “Our board...

What are some common mistakes in foundation planning?

Posted by Mark Neithercut on April 15, 2012

My parents are in the process of establishing a family foundation, and we are wondering  if you have a list of common mistakes that other donors have made in planning for a family foundation? A foundation is a business enterprise and, like any good business enterprise, a little bit of planning goes a...

Who Takes the Lead?

Posted by Alice Buhl on March 15, 2012

Our foundation’s board of directors is preparing to hire a new CEO to replace our retiring CEO, who has been with the family for nearly 20 years. As we talk with applicants, what are the most important topics we should discuss in terms of appropriate board and staff roles? In the transition between...

Funder Collaboratives: Avoiding the Potential Pitfalls of Partnerships

Posted by Richard Marker on February 15, 2012

Our board has recently been asked by a local group of funders to join a funder collaborative designed to help revitalize a troubled neighborhood in our community. What advice do you have for how to respond to this invitation? What are the advantages of funder collaborations, and what red flags should...

Training Opportunities for Younger Family Members and New Trustees

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on January 15, 2012

Our family foundation board is committed to adding several new next generation family members (i.e., in their 20s and 30s) to the board in the next 2-3 years. We also need to become more proactive in inviting younger family members (i.e., those in the 10-20 range) to participate in the family’s...

Family Foundation Board Job Descriptions

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on November 15, 2011

Our family foundation is preparing to bring on the third generation of family board members. As we prepare for this important transition we hope to better document the specific roles, responsibilities and attributes of our board members. Do you have suggestions for what to include in a family...

Can Private Foundations Serve as Fiscal Sponsors?

Posted by Andras Kosaras on October 15, 2011

By Andras Kosaras, Associate, Arnold and Porter LLP Private foundations frequently receive grant applications from groups that are under the fiscal sponsorship of a section 501(c)(3) public charity.  But sometimes the request is for the private foundation itself to serve as a group’s fiscal sponsor....

How should our family foundation think about the use of site visits?

Posted on September 13, 2011

Our board is trying to figure out how – and when – to use site visits in our grantmaking. How can we make sure these visits are useful both for our board and staff, and for the organizations we work with? The decision of whether and how to conduct site visits for some or all of your grantees is worth...

Starting a family foundation: where do we turn for guidance?

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on July 15, 2011

My parents are interested in starting a family foundation to help organize their giving, and to (eventually) provide an outlet for shared family giving with my generation and my children’s generation. Do you have suggestions for good resources we can reference as we think about how best to structure...

Attracting the right grantseekers... and keeping them from drowning in paperwork

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on June 15, 2011

How do we put together guidelines that attract the right grantseekers… and that are respectful of their time and resources? Many family foundations have written the National Center over the past 15 years asking for guidance on how to create grantmaking guidelines that attract the right grantseekers and...

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