10 Essential Roles of Foundation Board Members

As a board member, how can you make sure you bring your best to the table and bring out the best in your foundation? If you understand and embrace these 10 essential roles, you will help ensure that you are fulfilling your duties with wisdom and clarity — and doing your part to advance your foundation’s mission.

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10 Things Every New Foundation Board Member Should Know

This easy-to-use guide for new foundation board members provides an introduction to tools and knowledge essential in the first years of service on the board of a foundation.

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5 Ways to Mind the Philanthropy Shop Mindfully

Mindfulness is simply knowing what you are doing while you are doing it. CJ Callen lists five ways foundations can get off of the “mindless” treadmill and be fully present.

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Assessing and Advancing Foundation Transparency: Corporate Foundations as a Case Study

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

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Benchmarking Foundation Governance

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

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Board Self-Assessment for Community Foundations

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

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Case Study: Greater Milwaukee Foundation: Built for Leadership

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

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Challenges and Strategies for Family Foundations With Geographically Dispersed Board Members

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

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Competencies for Chief Executive Officers of Private Foundations

This publication codifies the job functions of the private foundation CEO and the skills and knowledge needed to perform these functions, referred to as competencies.

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Effective Foundation Boards: The Importance of Roles

This publication discusses three keys to more effective foundation governance: achieving role clarity, influence in decision-making and responsibility for impact. These three attributes can be better understood and achieved by examining the roles of foundation board members as individuals and as a collective. Recognizing these important, often overlooked, phenomena will help boards not only have good work that will keep them enthused and committed, but also to produce the good work that the public expects.

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Foundation Board Basics

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 often are called) because it is structured as a tax-exempt organization. In principle, the role of the foundation board does not differ from that of other nonprofit boards, but foundation boards have specific challenges.

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Generating Change: Investing in an Era of Nonprofit Talent and Leadership

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. We hope that the Generating Change initiative, and the promising practices and resources in this paper and the accompanying tool kit, will inform your work and inspire you to explore a new or expanded role in supporting talent and leadership development efforts within and beyond your existing funding priorities.

Categories: Governance

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Governance Basics – Board Structure, Committees and Delegation, and Policies and Procedures

This webinar reviews some of the fundamental issues associated with board governance. Topics include: board structure (size and composition); the role of committees and the board’s ability to delegate; and the necessary policies and procedures every board should adopt. 

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Grantmakers’ Role in Advancing Good Governance

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.

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Handling Conflict During Board Meetings

Since nonprofit board meetings depend on interaction among people with different values, perspectives, and communication styles, conflict is likely to occur. The impact of this conflict, however, largely depends on how it is handled. Use these key tips to manage conflict in your board meetings and ensure that all board members can have candid and productive discussions.

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How CEOs and Trustees Navigate Change and Transform Foundations

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.

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How Do I Work with My Family to Achieve High-Impact Philanthropy?

Philanthropy FAQ: in our experience, if you are serious about getting results with your philanthropy and seek to work with your family to do so, there are four explicit ways to increase your odds of success. Because each family is unique, with its own values, assets, and challenges, you will want to ensure that you work to take advantage of your assets and minimize the challenges. In particular, it’s been our experience that philanthropy is not an adequate way of solving family problems, and in some cases may exacerbate those that exist. Therefore, it’s important to consider this guidance in Read more

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The Trustee Handbook

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.

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Working With Government Officials: Rules for Private Foundations

This free (and fun) video resource covers the rules for private foundations related to working with government officials and ensure legal compliance, and takes approximately 60 minutes to complete. The training features “Maya,” a program officer that helps participants through the course in a way that reflects actual experiences. Participants can return to the training at any time for a refresher and click on the individual modules to refer back to specific topics.

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