An assessment of capacity building in Washington State and one of the first frameworks for understanding community capacity. This study looks at capacity building from a strategic, statewide perspective and provides a framework for thinking systematically about capacity-building investments at a state or community level; an assessment of the capacity building landscape; and opportunities for investment in: Capacity-building at the individual nonprofit level – grants directly to nonprofits, or through local intermediaries with particular emphasis on small- and mid-sized organizations. Strengthening the nonprofit ecosystems of specific local communities – through grants to local capacity-building institutions, or by convening local partners to identify/prioritize weak or missing elements Read more
What’s on the agenda for your board this year? Are you covering the bases of good governance? Below, we offer a checklist of annual board to-dos—prepared for foundations that are up and running (not start-ups). *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only
This article explores the mix of forces explaining variability in good-governance standards and practices by charitable foundations. A six-drivers framework for explaining improved foundation accountability and transparency is proposed and discussed in the context of a country study. Those drivers are: regulatory pressures, self-regulation, demands for information from donors and other relevant stakeholders, societal pressure derived from scandals, emulation, and third-party assessment. A simple tool for assessing foundation transparency internationally is proposed and then applied to corporate, endowed, and fundraising foundations in the U.S. and Spain. Foundations’ financial structure compounds with institutional factors to influence the stage of development of Read more
On a typical foundation board, what are its members’ most common areas of expertise? How common is it for an original donor — or a family member — to sit on a board? To what extent are board members involved in grantmaking? There are lots of questions out there about foundation governance. Yet there has been little data about foundation boards’ structures and practice. In surveying foundation CEOs as part of a larger benchmarking study, CEP worked closely with BoardSource to design and include questions related to governance to collect and bring to light new data on foundation boards. Benchmarking Read more
This report highlights the considered experiences and views of leading children, youth and family grantmakers across the U.S. concerning key insights they have gleaned about practices that either advance or impede diversity in areas ranging from governance and staffing to grantmaking and contracting. The presentation includes a summary of key findings concerning various practical aspects of promoting and managing diversity that readers should find especially valuable.
Beyond Compliance is based on the largest-scale research on foundation boards ever conducted and builds off CEP’s earlier governance report, Foundation Governance. This report reveals the foundation trustee perspective on effective governance, which despite the variety in size and function of grantmaking boards, has five essential factors. MORE The report offers data and findings to help trustees and CEOs utilize foundation governance optimally, with information ranging from racial composition of boards to the amount of information board members read.
BoardSource members and nonmembers alike can access BoardSource’s Board Recruitment Center to find out how to effectively recruit board members. Building a board is about finding leaders who have skill sets and perspectives that align with an organization’s strategies, goals, and needs. It is also about having the right blend of skill sets, expertise, community connections, diverse perspectives, and spheres of influence across the board as a whole. BoardSource members can take advantage of free board recruitment job postings on LinkedIn’s new Volunteer Marketplace.This new board posting service allows nonprofits to find the highly qualified and enthusiastic people needed to Read more
A community foundation board has a particular responsibility to identify emerging issues in its community, set funding goals or priorities accordingly, and determine when or if the foundation should act as a leader and convenor. BoardSource’s board self-assessment tool for community foundations is designed to meet the unique needs of a community foundation board by assisting in strengthening the board’s governance practices as well as its ability to respond appropriately as opportunities and challenges arise within its community. It is based on BoardSource’s standard BSA and includes questions on grantmaking and community leadership, funding and public image, and stewardship and Read more
Does your grantmaking organization have a succession plan in place? If you’re struggling with succession—or haven’t dealt with this tricky topic on your board—you’re not alone. In our most recent member survey, we learned that 27% of members have completed their plans, 29% are working on one now, and 39% plan to complete theirs in the future. I probably don’t need to tell you that a sound succession plan approved by your board is very important. Things happen, and simply having a plan in place can make everyone’s life much easier if something were to happen to you or another Read more
Embedded in this case study are three Cool Tools that community foundations can access via the click of a mouse: Milwaukee’s “Good to Great” strategic plan Criteria for selecting leadership projects Metrics used to assess the Foundation’s leadership efforts Read the case study to learn more about: Building a board for leadership Operating from a values base Aligning staff Engaging donors and other co-investors Funding community leadership Increasing impact
These courses help community foundation staff, board members and volunteers master the unique aspects of the community foundation field in short order. You’ll learn about effective practices, get helpful tools and information and have the opportunity to network with others in the field. Comprehensive and engaging, these courses are an efficient and affordable way to increase your knowledge of the field, to help you work more effectively.
Among the most important tasks that any board confronts is the choice of head staff person. If anything, this decision has even greater significance in family foundations. Whether the position is vacant because of the retirement of a beloved CEO or the departure of a problematic one, CEO transitions in family foundations typically have three major stages: clarifying the foundation direction, identifying a suitable successor, and realigning the foundation’s strategies and/or programs as necessary.
Author: National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP)
The Executive Leadership Institute (ELI) is a one-year intensive learning opportunity tailored specifically for community foundation CEOs to strengthen their ability to step into complex leadership roles in their communities. Through three, small group, face-to-face meetings supplemented by one-on-one coaching, it is designed to strengthen CEO leadership skills and relationships. With a focus on challenging CEOs in positive ways in a supportive peer environment, the Institute is designed to stimulate creativity and inspire “out of the box” thinking. The initial ELI cohort will consist of 15 community foundation leaders drawn from a pool of CEOs from community foundations in older Read more
This article, based on interviews with leaders of 10 family foundations, investigates the impact of geographic dispersion on governance, administration, decision making, and grantmaking activities. The greatest challenges for family foundations with dispersed boards involve assembling an appropriate staff, ensuring strong communication between staff and board members, and focusing the organization’s mission. Maintaining family board member interest in the foundation’s geographic area and bridging and strengthening ties between generations were also concerns. In order to maintain family legacies, all case-study foundations found unique ways to overcome challenges and were deliberate in ensuring that board members stayed actively engaged in the Read more
Multiple loyalties can create conflicts of interest. In private foundations, conflicts of interest occur when the financial or personal interests of board members or foundation managers are, or may appear to be, inconsistent with the interests of the foundation. This resource guides board members and foundation managers in defining conflicts of interest, identifying which transactions are absolutely prohibited and which are permissible if properly handled, and developing a conflict-of- interest policy that protects foundations, board members, and foundation managers by taking self interest out of the decision-making process. Additionally, we provide a sample conflict-of-interest policy and disclosure questionnaire.
BoardSource offers dynamic, highly interactive governance workshops on a variety of topics for your next conference, meeting, retreat, event, or training. Each of our live training programs can be customized to meet the unique needs of your organization, to adhere to time constraints or format preferences, and to appeal to different audience sizes. The Governance as Leadership workshop takes a look at the three modes of governance — fiduciary, strategic and generative — that together enable board members more meaningful, consequential work resulting in better governed organizations. With a focus on generative thinking, the most neglected work of a board Read more
In this video, Paul Grogan discusses how The Boston Foundation has taken on a significant community leadership role in addition to its stewardship and grantmaking roles. Hear how The Boston Foundation: uses research to help guide its direction gathers citizen input to inform its activities makes the most of communications to promote its work and directly engages in public policy activity to ensure a deep and long-lasting impact.
Foundations are unique among organizations in the enormous latitude they have in determining their work and the manner in which it is done. This flexibility manifests itself particularly in the variety of roles that foundation board members can take. Most of the literature in the field focuses on best practices in board structure and processes. These are necessary in the spirit of responsiveness and legal accountability, but are not sufficient for effectiveness. Achieving role clarity, influence in decision-making and responsibility for impact are three keys to more effective foundation governance. These three attributes can be better understood and achieved by Read more
What separates more strategic foundation leaders from less strategic ones? This research explores the state of strategy at foundations today and identifies behaviors and practices common to more strategic leaders. Case studies and interviews included in the report highlight strategic best practices.
A Logic Model is a widely used tool that presents specific details of program inputs, activities and outcomes, and shows generally how they are related. Theory of Change is a model designed to link outcomes and activities to explain how and why desired change is expected to come about. Essentially, Logic Models clarify what you are doing and Theories of Change clarify why you are doing it. The terms are sometimes used inter-changeably but they are actually different tools. In Using Logic Models we explore what sets them apart.
The Council of Michigan Foundations sets aside a section of its website to provide descriptions and videos from a variety of Family Foundation Events. There are examples of networking opportunites and educational programs for family foundations. Event highlights and links for more information are offered for further exploration.
In principle, the role of the foundation board does not differ from that of other nonprofit boards, but foundation boards do have specific challenges, which we address here. A grantmaking foundation is a charitable tax-exempt organization whose primary function is to distribute funds for charitable purposes. Private foundations are typically formed by individuals, families, or corporations. Regardless of whose generosity is benefiting worthy causes, a foundation needs a governing board (or a board of trustees as foundation board members usually are called) because it is structured as a tax-exempt organization.
The Council on Foundations’ Foundation Management Series provides foundation boards and staff with the tools needed to benchmark their practices and operations against peers in the field. Containing data from the Council’s 2009 Foundation Management survey, the series consists of three reports: Board Composition and Compensation, Administrative and Investment Expenses, and Fiscal Oversight.
Family foundations are often led by family members, generation after generation. But no one is born with the knowledge to run a foundation. In order to ensure smooth transitions, or at least minimize challenges, some critical points must be addressed in the very structure and practice of the family foundation. *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only
Creating a separate but affiliated fundraising organization — a foundation for the purpose of raising funds — is not for every nonprofit. If your board is considering the option, it is important to identify the various challenges and benefits such a foundation might bring with it.
Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy developed this paper to provide a fresh, solutions focused framework to help funders address the pressing issue of nonprofit leadership development in ways that are flexible and appropriate across the diversity of the foundation field. Because EPIP is the funder network that develops new leaders for foundations, we know firsthand how imperative it is for the funding community to invest in the next generation— and all generations—of people who power their work. We all know that foundations are only as effective as the nonprofits they support, and grantees are only as effective as their leadership and Read more
Once thought to be uniquely American, philanthropy and civil society are now seen as global phenomena. This course highlights the obligations of philanthropy to support civil society as its primary vehicle for accomplishing its programmatic objectives. Examine individual giving, organized philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, and corporate philanthropy as contributors to the common good throughout the world. Analyze the impact of technology on giving and the role of evaluation in assessing the ability of global philanthropy to sustain civil society. The course is taught through lectures, discussions, and readings.
Author: Academy for Grantmaking and Funder Education, New York University
Grantmakers for Effective Organizations is a diverse community of more than 500 grantmakers reshaping the way philanthropy operates to invest in nonprofit success. Mission: Understanding that grantmakers are successful only to the extent that their grantees achieve meaningful results, GEO promotes strategies and practices that contribute to grantee success. Nonprofits are successful at achieving more meaningful change in our communities when they have the resources and skills to be effective. By not adequately responding to what nonprofits say they need most to maximize impact, funders can inadvertently do harm to the organizations and causes we intend to support. Changing grantmaker Read more
Grantmakers are in a unique position to strengthen the governance of their grantees and nonprofits in their communities. For grantmakers already engaging around issues of good governance, this report provides new ideas to consider and suggestions for enhancing current activities. For grantmakers that are just beginning to engage nonprofits on governance issues, this report presents the case for investing in governance and shares a variety of ways to advance those efforts.
The WHH Foundation, a California based ASF member, has taken a particularly thoughtful approach to engaging its third generation family members, ages 8 to 27. The foundation is managed by a volunteer board led by its founder, and is staffed by part-time executive director and family member, Bernadette Glenn. Recently, ASF spoke with Bernadette and Molly Purnell, age 25, who chairs the foundation’s next generation group. *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only
Foundation CEOs and trustees share insights and personal stories related to significant paths of change and how they overcame setbacks. Download a copy and gain best practices to help you successfully lead your foundation, boards and staff.
Ingrid Fox, advisor to the junior board of the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation, compiled these ideas for involving teens in philanthropy. *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only
A comprehensive study of the attitudes and practices of staffed grantmaking foundations in the U.S., which examines the connection between listening to and learning with grantees and improving practices to achieve better results. In light of the global economic downturn, this survey also highlights some of the key shifts in grantmaking since 2008 and what they mean for supporting nonprofit resilience.
Author: Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO)
The Logic Model Builder helps you clarify the connection between what your program does and what it is trying to achieve. You’ll be guided through an interactive process of thinking about your program’s goals, rationale, activities, and resources, and how those elements work together to produce your intended outcomes. To access this resource, it is required to set up a free account through Innovation Network by following the link below: http://www.innonet.org/?module=register
In this online course, gain an overview of the skills, knowledge, and attributes needed to become an effective leader and manager. Learn how to build an exciting, dynamic, productive workplace and how to unleash creative energy in yourself and your staff. Explore techniques for effectively managing staff, boards, and volunteers. Develop a strategic plan for handling difficult employee issues, communicating effectively, and managing time and stress.
Author: Academy for Grantmaking and Funder Education, New York University
Since 1994, BoardSource has been conducting the BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index, a one-of-a-kind national survey of nonprofit chief executives and board chairs. The Governance Index is the only national survey to gather information from both chief executives and board chairs on their experiences in the boardroom. The Index identifies trends in board composition, policies, and practices as well as provides a detailed view of the challenges nonprofit boards are facing as they conduct their work.
Philanthropy offers an exciting opportunity to bring your loved ones together to support a common cause. However, getting the best possible results with your philanthropy and preserving the social bonds that are important to you can sometimes require trade-offs.
Families engaged in philanthropy may view their giving through a variety of lenses. Some pay particular attention to the family’s legacy of giving, some focus on a particular issue or cause, and many choose to limit their grantmaking to a specific city, state or region. A growing number of family foundations have taken this commitment to geographic location to another level, and made the strategic decision to engage in place-based philanthropy, dedicating the majority of their giving and personal involvement in a specific community.
Author: National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP)
As young adults pursue degrees, settle into careers, and start families of their own, participation in a foundation can be far from the top of a to-do list. But this stage of life can be a wonderful time to be involved in the work of a foundation—a rewarding change of pace and a chance for new perspectives, ideas, and enthusiasm at the foundation table. Whether you’re a young adult excited about becoming involved in your family’s foundation or a family member hoping to engage the next generation, where do you start? *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only
At the end of last October, David Callahan, editor of the Inside Philanthropy blog, posted his five ‘scariest’ trends in philanthropy. Callahan’s ‘trends’ all relate to philanthropy in the US. Are these specifically US trends, we wondered, or are they happening more widely? In either event, how scary are they? We asked a number of observers from around the world – from India, Mexico, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa and the UK – for their reactions. In spite of Callahan’s injunction to ‘be afraid’, few of them seem inclined to quake in their boots, even where they see similar tendencies Read more
Our all-time bestseller with over 175,000 copies sold, this book not only explores the board’s 10 core responsibilities, it also puts them into the context of the governance challenges facing nonprofits today. We clarify and distinguish the board’s responsibilities from those of the chief executive and senior staff. In addition, it includes two appendixes, one covering the individual responsibilities of board members and the other providing a sample self-assessment for individual board members.
For new and potential board members as well as staff and consultants who are new to working with a board. This program is offered through a series of webinars or through a live course. At the conclusion of this certificate program, you will have gained insights, tools, and materials that further your understanding of nonprofit board governance; developed a network of peers for the exchange of information and mutual support; and examined approaches, assumptions, questions, and practices regarding good governance.
Few, if any, roles are more significant in ensuring a foundation’s success than that of the board chair. This may be why many people find assuming this position a daunting prospect. And yet the successful businessperson who serves as chair of a family foundation dedicated to a cause that was dear to his parents’ hearts or the community leader who serves as chair of an independent foundation that provides deserving youth with life-changing opportunities will tell you that few roles are more rewarding. The accomplishments of a foundation that is wisely and conscientiously led can provide its board chair with Read more
For board chairs seeking practical approaches to some of the most challenging aspects of the job. This training program will help you become an exceptional board leader — one who not only understands his or her roles and responsibilities but who also is a generative and strategic thinker; who asks questions and seeks knowledge to better understand the opportunities, challenges, and threats that affect today’s nonprofits; who empowers the board to move forward and build organizational capacity.
For chief executives committed to building a constructive partnership with their board. Whether you are new to the chief executive position or a seasoned leader, you will learn practical approaches to some of the most challenging aspects of the job, including: Attending to the overall chief executive/board relationship Building relationships with individual board members, including the board chair Engaging board members without inviting them to micromanage Increasing the effectiveness of your board Sharing the good and bad with your board Working effectively with officers and other small groups of the board, such as committees and task groups
One of BoardSource’s best-selling books, The Nonprofit Board Answer Book provides answers to the most-commonly asked questions about governance.This book is a hands-on guide for board members, chief executives, and others who are charged with leading their organizations. Board members will learn how to be more effective in dealing with everyday challenges; chief executives will gain insight into how to build a strong partnership with their board. We include information on topics that have recently increased in importance, including the new Form 990, dealing with the financial crisis, risk management, and strategic partnerships. Designed to be user-friendly, it is written in an Read more
The number one responsibility of any board—for-profit or nonprofit—is effective management of the senior executive, especially a new one. Yet, nonprofit leaders often report to Bridgespan that their boards fall short of that goal. Here are five ways nonprofit boards can improve onboarding and their support of new CEOs.
For nonprofit organizations, policies are tools for setting priorities, making decisions, and defining and delegating responsibilities. Too often, policies are created to ensure a bad decision made during a crisis is never repeated. But policy-making need not be reactive. Boards that practice proactive policy-making can save themselves a great deal of anguish in a crisis situation that demands an immediate response. The Nonprofit Policy Sampler is designed to help. This exhaustive resource provides key elements and practical tips for 70 policy topic areas, along with more than 300 sample policies, job descriptions, committee charters, codes of ethics, board member agreements, mission and Read more
Certification programs can provide a way for nonprofits to ensure adherence to generally accepted standards. The KH2GO Certification Pilot Project, supported by the Lumina Foundations, developed a set of standards for high-quality college access services, including standards for programming, operations, and organizational effectiveness. The project was implemented in two states with an evaluation designed to assess the quality of the assessment tools and the ease and rigor of implementation. The more clarity that applicants had about the goals of the process, potential benefits, and details about procedures, the more benefits they perceived. Many applicants felt that the self-assessment improved their Read more
Exceptional boards add significant value to their organizations, making discernible differences in their advance on mission. How does a board rise to this level? Are there standards that describe this height of performance? The Source: Twelve Principles of Governance That Power Exceptional Boards defines governance not as dry, obligatory compliance, but as a creative and collaborative process that supports chief executives, engages board members, and furthers the causes they all serve. The Source enables nonprofit boards to operate at the highest and best use of their collective capacity. Aspirational in nature, these principles offer chief executives a description of an Read more
Find detailed guidance on small foundation governance, grantmaking, tax and legal issues, and financial oversight and investments. Our most comprehensive resource for every trustee and board member. Includes: Updates on recent laws affecting small foundations; Sample documents to save you time and money; The requisite information for an effective trustee — all in one place.
Changes in a nonprofit’s leadership affect the organization’s staff, its board, and potentially how it will achieve its goals. With so much at stake, it’s important that a funder works with the nonprofit it supports to ensure a smooth CEO transition—and help sustain the organization until it gets a new leader.
Traditional approaches to foundation evaluation do not help trustees make informed strategic decisions. This toolkit offers new ways for trustees and foundations to better plan work, improve implementation and track progress toward goals.
How do community foundation boards employ strategies that allow them to remain responsive to multiple constituencies (grantors, grantees, community representatives and providers of fiduciary oversight) while steering their organizations with accountability and authority? In March 2004, with a grant from the Aspen Institute’s Nonprofit Sector Research Fund and additional support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, BoardSource and Ohio University’s Voinovich Center for Leadership and Public Affairs set out to answer that question.
As part of our continuing efforts to help foundations maintain and improve the effectiveness of their work, the Minnesota Council on Foundations has prepared this comprehensive resource to help private, corporate and community/public foundations understand their legal requirements and obligations. This publication and its companion piece, Principles for Grantmakers & Practice Options for Philanthropic Organizations, are key publications in MCF’s Philanthropy & Public Trust series.