Best Practices for Geographically Dispersed Board Members

This study investigates how family foundations manage governance, decision making, and, especially, daily work activities when the number of local board members diminishes. In most foundations interviewed, either all or a high proportion of board members do not live in the region where the foundation is headquartered. In many of the foundations, the majority of grant funds are directed to organizations located in regions other than where board members live.

The case studies show that in most foundations, board members remain engaged in governance, strategic decision making, and grantmaking activities even when the board is geographically dispersed. However, a few board members participate in staff-oriented roles when the foundation office and grantmaking remain tied to one region and the board members live elsewhere. In two of the ten cases, family board members do remain engaged in staff-oriented roles. These board members are paid by the foundation to undertake staff-like responsibilities. In one of those, the family member is the only person paid to manage the foundation.

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Geographic Dispersion: Giving Together Across Distances

This Content Collection share webinars, stories, and tips for geographically dispersed family foundation boards and families.

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