Posts by Phillip Henderson

A Statement on Charlottesville by the Surdna Foundation

Posted by Phillip Henderson on August 29, 2017

This past year, we have seen political and social norms challenged and often trampled. We have struggled to keep our bearings and hold to our moral principles. As we have been inundated by the constant barrage of events, media firestorms, and tweets, a tragic and horrible day in Charlottesville provides a chilling moment of clarity and outrage.

Good governance: How should family foundation boards spend their time?

Posted by Phillip Henderson on February 9, 2016

Checks landing in the mailboxes of nonprofit organizations with foundation return ad-dresses have long been considered philanthropy’s most important currency. Reflecting that view, family foundations have tended to focus their operations, self-image, and their very reasons for being on getting the dollars out the door...Lurking behind that 90 percent, though, is another story—it’s the natural tendency to conflate family governance of a foundation and strategic control of its mission with control of the grantmaking function.

Family-ness: A clunky word that says it all

Posted by Phillip Henderson on March 25, 2015

Surdna is a family foundation. A simple statement, but one that carries deep meaning for us -- meaning that shapes much of what we do. At our most recent board meeting, we continued our examination of potential changes to the way we invest our endowment, we discussed some important modifications to the role of the board in our grantmaking process, and we breathed new life into a conversation between Surdna and the Andrus Family Fund, a grantmaking fund we created just over 15 years ago.

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