Creating Choices Before Making Choices: One Family Foundation’s Journey to Finding a Strategic Focus

Rooted in business principles, philanthropic study, and reflective practice, this article examines the first step of building a grantmaking strategy – finding an issue or problem to address – and presents a three-part model for creating choices that reflect a foundation’s donor intent, organizational talents and resources, and broader community needs. Ultimately, this process illustrates how a family foundation can find a strategic focus, either for all or simply one portion of its grantmaking portfolio. The journey of the Marion I. & Henry J. Knott Foundation, a small, Catholic, multigenerational family foundation, forms the basis for this examination.