Photo of Prentice Zinn, Director of GMA Foundations

Prentice Zinn

Senior Program Officer and Senior Consultant, GMA Foundations

Prentice Zinn chairs GMA’s board of directors, is a senior member of our consulting team, and staffs several local, regional, and international foundations. He is best known to his clients and colleagues as an advisor, educator, and facilitator.

Prentice specializes in start-up work with new donors, planning for multi-generational philanthropy, guiding boards in rethinking mission and focus, and identifying high impact funding opportunities. His primary grantmaking expertise is in the areas of the environment, community development, human services, economic mobility, and public policy.

In support of the field of philanthropy, Prentice designs and leads interactive workshops on monitoring, evaluation, and learning, and shares his observations in blog posts, recently about grantmaking due diligence and diversifying family boards. He co-edited Collaborating for Change: A Participatory Action Research Casebook, a collection of stories from grantees that show how democratizing research supports social change, and later wrote about how the book project supported a foundation’s reflection and learning.

Prentice is a founding member of Jamaica Plain Cohousing in Boston, a board member of Hesperian Health Guides, and a board member of  Philanthropy Massachusetts. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Prentice also earned master’s degrees from the University of Michigan School of Social Work and the Boston University School of Public Health.

Prentice grew up in Flint, Michigan and started a lifelong path in the nonprofit sector in high school. His years in Detroit, Denver, and Boston have made him a keen critic of generalizations about nonprofits and philanthropy.


Effective Family Philanthropy in Action

Family Foundation Finds Focus in Grantee Relationships

Posted on August 31, 2023 by Prentice Zinn

Growing plant put into focus by a magnifying glass
In recent years, GMA Foundations has worked with the Celia Lipton Farris and Victor W. Farris Foundation to define and hone its grantmaking focus. The process involved deep listening and learning and strengthened grantee relationships.  Cohesive family giving across geography and generations is patient work. Trustees’ willingness to listen to one another and to invest time in grantee relationships translates… Read More

Internal Evaluation and Learning

Posted on December 15, 2022 by Brittany Green Daniels, Arturo Garcia, Bruce Karmazin, Prentice Zinn

A family philanthropy has a much better chance of success if there is an intentional culture that values continuous improvement, feedback and professional development, and an integrated approach of learning and assessment across governance, philanthropic strategy, succession, and more. The assessment process asks organizations to evaluate their philanthropic purpose, governance, team, accountability, finances, and family—to answer how you can continually… Read More
Voices from the Field

Our Favorite Foundation Board Meeting Traditions

Posted on April 10, 2019 by Prentice Zinn

Photo of an African American family sitting on a couch in a living room
Editor’s Note: This blog post originally appeared here from GMA Foundations. Traditions are an important ingredient of a healthy organizational culture.  Our favorite foundation meetings balance the often hurried and transactional work of governance with small traditions at each board meeting. Traditions create a dynamic flow of rhythm and predictability for meetings. They promote a sense of identity and connection. They reinforce and… Read More