Ask the Center Posts

Advocacy vs. lobbying

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on July 15, 2008

Q: In a board discussion of possible advocacy efforts, trustees recalled our founding documents, which prohibit “carrying on propaganda.” Where does this phrase come from and what exactly does it mean? A: The phrase “carrying on propaganda” comes from Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, which...

Place-based philanthropy

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on June 15, 2008

Q: What is place-based philanthropy? A: Also called “embedded philanthropy,” this increasingly popular approach to giving emphasizes intimate, active engagement in community change specific to a local community. Embedded philanthropists make a long-term commitment to living and working in a community...

Minimum age for board

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on May 15, 2008

Q: We want to involve a new generation in the foundation. At what age should we welcome new board members? A: Family boards often agonize over what the minimum age for board members should be. Older family members worry which groups, branches, or people will be included or excluded....

Board compensation

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on April 15, 2008

Q: Should we pay the trustees of our family foundation? A: The National Center for Family Philanthropy neither advocates nor opposes board compensation. We hold the position that any foundation policy or practice, including board compensation, should help the foundation further its mission, values, and...

Child care and more

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on March 15, 2008

Q: Our foundation’s third generation is coming on the board and some have young children. Some family members say the lack of child care during board meetings hinders participation. Can the foundation pay for child care so that parents can attend board meetings? A: Generally no....

Travel expenses for next generation board members

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on February 15, 2008

Q: We have a next-generation board with five college-age family members who travel from all around the country to meet, review grant proposals, and recommend grants to the governing board. Is it legal to reimburse them for travel expenses? A: Yes. Spouses and children of board members are disqualified...

Substantial contributors

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on January 15, 2008

Q: It is my understanding that Form 990-PF requires reporting of the names and addresses of contributors which can be accessed by the public. I would prefer not having to report the names and addresses of contributors. What do I do? A: The Internal Revenue Service requires foundations to file Form...

Geographic dispersion

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on December 15, 2007

Q: My family’s foundation has traditionally given in New England and continues to support nonprofits there, but family members live all around the country. How do we keep people engaged? A: As today’s families are more mobile than ever, geographic dispersion has become a crucial issue for family...

Discretionary grants

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on November 15, 2007

Q: We were thinking of creating a discretionary grant policy where each board member could make some grants in their own areas while keeping the majority of the foundation’s grantmaking in our parents’ home state. How many other families do this and is this a good idea? A: Many family foundation boards...

The 990-PF in a Nutshell: What You Need to Know

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on August 15, 2004

What is the 990-PF and who needs to fill one out? The 990-PF is the tax return used for all private foundations filing under tax-exempt status, which inventories all of a foundation’s assets, investments, revenue, expenses, and charitable disbursements throughout the fiscal year....

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