Impact Vehicles & Structures

Leveraging the Right Medium to Achieve Your Goals

Always remember, form follows function.

Philanthropy takes many forms. The selection of a social impact vehicle is an important consideration in the pursuit of effective philanthropy.

Your choice of social impact vehicle(s) (your form) must follow your philanthropic purpose and goals for social impact (your function).

Start by determining your goals. Consider the following:

  • Why (and where)? Your philanthropic purpose will inform a vehicle choice with the most flexiblity to achieve that purpose.
  • Who? Your governance framework will inform your vehicle’s founding documents.
  • What resources? Consider the “5 Ts”: Time, talent, ties, testimony, and treasure.
  • Which pathways? How can targeted use of your resources catalyze outsized impact?
  • How structured or complex?
  • When? What is your intended lifespan?

Designed to help you leverage the vehicle(s) that best support your mission, this primer and the following content offer clarity and direction.

Download the Impact Vehicles and Structures Primer

Featured Resources

VIDEO | July 17, 2023

Navigating Family Philanthropy: Choosing Your Philanthropic Vehicles

Selecting a philanthropic vehicle or vehicles is one of the most important choices you can make to support your giving goals.

ASK THE CENTER | March 12, 2019

How do donor-advised funds compare with private foundations and other family giving vehicles?

When setting up a philanthropic vehicle, families often wonder whether to give directly to charitable organizations (check-book giving), or to set up a more formal planned giving vehicle, such as a donor-advised fund (DAF), private foundation, or charitable trust.

BOOK CHAPTER | September 21, 2017

Funding Your Family Foundation

This resource is an excerpt of Chapter 7 from “Splendid Legacy 2: Creating and Re-creating Your Family Foundation”.

REPORT | April 20, 2020

Structuring for Impact: Creating Integrated Engines of Change

Which operating structures best support the use of an integrated, multi-tool approach (grants, investments, and/or advocacy) for achieving strategic impact?

TOOL | October 20, 2020

Giving Vehicles: The Basics

Is direct giving, a donor advised fund, a private foundation, an LLC, or some combination the best set-up for you to achieve your goals? Many people are catapulted into philanthropy because of a wealth event. Often, their first question is what giving vehicle to use to deploy their philanthropic dollars. We hope this chapter will help you answer these questions:

REPORT | April 17, 2020

The Philanthropy Framework

The Philanthropy Framework was designed as a tool to give an emerging or established philanthropy (whether in the form of a foundation, trust, funder collaborative, LLC, donor-advised fund or direct giving) a structure to align resources for maximum impact.

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