Foundations 101: Start and Run a Great Foundation with Confidence and Success with Stephen L. Isaacs and Paul S. Jellinek
Here is the outline of the article I created based on the topic you provided: # Foundations 101: How to Start and Run a Great Foundation - Introduction - What is a foundation and why start one? - What are the benefits and challenges of running a foundation? - What are the key steps to start and run a great foundation? - Step 1: Define your vision, mission, and values - How to articulate your purpose and goals for your foundation - How to align your values with your grantmaking strategy - How to communicate your vision, mission, and values to stakeholders - Step 2: Choose your legal structure and governance model - How to decide between a private foundation or a public charity - How to register your foundation and comply with legal requirements - How to establish a board of directors and set up governance policies - Step 3: Develop your strategic plan and budget - How to identify your priority areas and target beneficiaries - How to set SMART objectives and indicators for your foundation - How to create a realistic budget and allocate resources efficiently - Step 4: Implement your grantmaking program and monitor your impact - How to design and launch your grantmaking program - How to solicit, review, and select grant proposals - How to monitor, evaluate, and report on your impact - Step 5: Engage with your community and partners - How to build trust and relationships with your grantees and beneficiaries - How to collaborate and network with other foundations and organizations - How to promote your foundation and share your learnings - Conclusion - Summarize the main points of the article - Emphasize the importance of starting and running a great foundation - Provide some tips and resources for further guidance Here is the article I wrote based on the outline: # Foundations 101: How to Start and Run a Great Foundation Are you passionate about making a difference in the world? Do you have a vision for creating positive change in your community or beyond? If so, you may be interested in starting a foundation. A foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports charitable causes through grantmaking. Foundations can fund various types of activities, such as education, health, arts, environment, human rights, and more. Foundations can also conduct research, advocacy, or public education on issues they care about. Starting a foundation can be a rewarding way to pursue your philanthropic goals and leave a lasting legacy. However, running a foundation also comes with many responsibilities and challenges. You need to comply with legal regulations, manage financial resources, oversee grantmaking programs, measure impact, and engage with stakeholders. How can you start and run a great foundation? In this article, we will guide you through five key steps that will help you launch and operate an effective foundation. These steps are: 1. Define your vision, mission, and values 2. Choose your legal structure and governance model 3. Develop your strategic plan and budget 4. Implement your grantmaking program and monitor your impact 5. Engage with your community and partners Let's dive into each step in more detail. ## Step 1: Define your vision, mission, and values The first step to start a great foundation is to define your vision, mission, and values. These are the core elements that will shape your identity and direction as a foundation. Your vision is the ultimate goal or impact you want to achieve through your foundation. It should be inspiring, ambitious, and clear. For example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's vision is "a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life." Your mission is the specific purpose or focus of your foundation. It should describe what you do, who you serve, and how you do it. For example, the Ford Foundation's mission is "to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement." Your values are the principles or beliefs that guide your actions and decisions as a foundation. They should reflect what you stand for, how you treat others, and what you expect from yourself. For example, the Rockefeller Foundation's values are "integrity, innovation, collaboration, accountability, effectiveness." To define your vision, mission, and values, you need to ask yourself some questions: - What are the issues or problems that motivate you to start a foundation? - What are the outcomes or changes that you want to see in the world? - Who are the people or communities that you want to help or influence? - How will you use your resources and expertise to address the issues or problems? - What are the standards or norms that you want to uphold or promote? Once you have defined your vision, mission, and values, you need to align them with your grantmaking strategy. This means that you need to ensure that your grants support activities or organizations that are consistent with your purpose and goals. You also need to communicate your vision, mission, and values to your stakeholders, such as your board, staff, grantees, beneficiaries, partners, and donors. This will help you build trust, credibility, and reputation as a foundation. ## Step 2: Choose your legal structure and governance model The second step to start a great foundation is to choose your legal structure and governance model. These are the formal aspects that will determine how your foundation is organized and regulated. Your legal structure is the type of entity that your foundation will be registered as. There are two main types of foundations in the United States: private foundations and public charities. Private foundations are funded by one or a few sources, such as an individual, a family, or a corporation. Public charities are funded by multiple sources, such as donations from the public, government grants, or fees for services. The choice of legal structure has implications for your tax status, reporting requirements, and operational flexibility. Private foundations are subject to more rules and restrictions than public charities. For example, private foundations must pay an annual excise tax of 1.39% on their net investment income. They must also distribute at least 5% of their assets each year for charitable purposes. They cannot engage in lobbying or political activities, and they must avoid self-dealing transactions with insiders. Public charities are exempt from the excise tax and the distribution requirement. They can engage in limited lobbying and political activities, as long as they do not constitute a substantial part of their activities. They can also engage in more diverse activities than private foundations, such as providing direct services, conducting research, or operating programs. To choose your legal structure, you need to consider some factors: - What is the source and size of your funding? - How much control and independence do you want over your foundation? - How much flexibility and diversity do you want in your activities? - How much administrative burden and cost are you willing to bear? Once you have chosen your legal structure, you need to register your foundation with the appropriate authorities. This may include filing articles of incorporation with the state, applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS, and obtaining licenses or permits from local agencies. Your governance model is the way that your foundation is managed and overseen. It involves establishing a board of directors and setting up governance policies. Your board of directors is the group of people who are responsible for governing your foundation. They have fiduciary duties to act in the best interest of your foundation, ensure compliance with laws and regulations, approve strategic plans and budgets, oversee grantmaking programs, hire and evaluate staff, and monitor performance and impact. Your governance policies are the rules and procedures that guide the functioning of your board and your foundation. They may include bylaws, conflict of interest policy, code of ethics, whistleblower policy, compensation policy, grantmaking policy, evaluation policy, etc. To choose your governance model, you need to consider some factors: - How many board members do you need and who should they be? - How often should the board meet and how should they communicate? - How should the board delegate authority and responsibility to staff or committees? - How should the board evaluate its own performance and effectiveness? - How should the board handle conflicts of interest or ethical issues? Once you have chosen your governance model, you need to recruit and train your board members, adopt and implement your governance policies, and conduct regular board meetings and reviews. ## Step 3: Develop your strategic plan and budget The third step to start a great foundation is to develop your strategic plan and budget. These are the tools that will help you plan and execute your activities as a foundation. Your strategic plan is the document that outlines your goals, objectives, strategies, and actions for a specific period of time. It should be based on your vision, mission, values, and grantmaking strategy. It should also be informed by research, analysis, and consultation with stakeholders. Your strategic plan should include: - A situation analysis that describes the context and challenges of the issues or problems you want to address - A goal statement that summarizes the overall impact or change you want to achieve - A set of SMART objectives that specify what you want to accomplish in terms of outcomes or outputs - A set of strategies that explain how you will achieve your objectives - A set of actions that detail what you will do to implement your strategies - A set of indicators that measure how well you are progressing towards your objectives - A timeline that indicates when you will complete each action - A budget that estimates your income and expenses for the period of your plan Your budget is the financial projection of your strategic plan. It shows how much money you expect to raise and spend for your foundation. It also helps you monitor your financial performance and make adjustments as needed. Your budget should include: - A list of income sources and amounts, such as donations, grants, investments, etc. - A list of expense categories and amounts, such as salaries, rent, utilities, grants, etc. - A calculation of your net income or loss (income minus expenses) - A comparison of your budgeted and actual figures for each income and expense item To create your budget, you need to estimate your income and expenses based on your strategic plan and your past financial records. You also need to consider some factors: - What are the trends and patterns in your income and expenses? - What are the assumptions and risks that may affect your income and expenses? - How will you adjust your budget if your income or expenses are higher or lower than expected? Once you have created your budget, you need to review it regularly and compare it with your actual financial statements. You also need to update it as necessary to reflect any changes in your plans or circumstances. ## Step 4: Implement your grantmaking program and monitor your impact The fourth step to start a great foundation is to implement your grantmaking program and monitor your impact. These are the activities that will help you execute your strategies and achieve your objectives as a foundation. Your grantmaking program is the process of distributing funds to support charitable causes or organizations that align with your mission and goals. It involves designing and launching your program, soliciting and reviewing grant proposals, selecting and awarding grants, and managing grant relationships. Your grantmaking program should include: - A clear description of your grantmaking priorities, criteria, guidelines, and procedures - A user-friendly application form and process for potential grantees - A transparent and fair evaluation system and process for grant proposals - A timely and respectful communication system and process for grant applicants and recipients - A contract or agreement that specifies the terms and conditions of each grant - A payment system and schedule that ensures timely and accurate disbursement of funds To implement your grantmaking program, you need to follow the steps outlined in your grantmaking policy. You also need to ensure that you have adequate staff, systems, and resources to manage your program effectively and efficiently. Your impact monitoring is the process of measuring and assessing the results and outcomes of your grantmaking program. It involves collecting and analyzing data, reporting on progress and achievements, learning from feedback and findings, and improving your program accordingly. Your impact monitoring should include: - A set of indicators that measure the outputs, outcomes, and impacts of each grant - A data collection system and method that gathers reliable and relevant information from grantees and beneficiaries - A data analysis system and method that interprets and summarizes the information collected - A reporting system and format that communicates the information analyzed to stakeholders - A learning system and process that incorporates the information reported into decision making and planning To monitor your impact, you need to follow the steps outlined in your evaluation policy. You also need to ensure that you have adequate staff, systems, and resources to conduct your monitoring effectively and efficiently. ## Step 5: Engage with your community and partners The fifth step to start a great foundation is to engage with your community and partners. These are the relationships that will help you enhance your reputation and influence as a foundation. Your community is the group of people or organizations that are affected by or interested in your foundation's work. It may include your grantees, beneficiaries, donors, peers, media, policymakers, etc. Your partners are the people or organizations that share common goals or interests with your foundation. They may include other foundations, nonprofits, corporations, government agencies, academic institutions, etc. To engage with your community and partners, you need to: - Build trust and respect with them by being transparent, accountable, and responsive to their needs and expectations - Collaborate and network with them by sharing information, resources, and opportunities for mutual benefit and learning - Promote your foundation and its work by telling stories, showcasing results, and celebrating successes Engaging with your community and partners will help you: - Increase your visibility and credibility as a foundation - Expand your reach and impact as a grantmaker - Learn from the experiences and perspectives of others - Improve your practices and policies as a foundation ## Conclusion Starting and running a great foundation is not an easy task. It requires vision, passion, commitment, and skills. It also requires planning, organizing, managing, and evaluating. But it can also be a rewarding and fulfilling way to make a difference in the world. In this article, we have outlined five key steps that will help you start and run a great foundation. These steps are: 1. Define your vision, mission, and values 2. Choose your legal structure and governance model 3. Develop your strategic plan and budget 4. Implement your grantmaking program and monitor your impact 5. Engage with your community and partners We hope that this article has given you some useful insights and guidance on how to start and run a great foundation. We also encourage you to seek further information and advice from experts and peers in the field of philanthropy. Here are some FAQs that you may have about starting and running a great foundation: - Q: How much money do I need to start a foundation? - A: There is no minimum or maximum amount of money required to start a foundation. However, you should consider the costs of setting up and operating a foundation, such as legal fees, accounting fees, staff salaries, office rent, etc. You should also consider the amount of money you want to distribute as grants each year. - Q: How do I choose a name for my foundation? - A: You can choose any name for your foundation that reflects your vision, mission, values, or identity. However, you should avoid names that are already taken by other organizations, that are misleading or confusing, or that may cause legal or ethical issues. - Q: How do I find donors for my foundation? - A: You can find donors for your foundation by reaching out to individuals, corporations, foundations, or government agencies that share your interests or goals. You can also use online platforms, such as crowdfunding sites or social media, to raise awareness and funds for your foundation. - Q: How do I find grantees for my foundation? - A: You can find grantees for your foundation by conducting research, networking, or advertising your grant opportunities. You can also use online platforms, such as databases or directories, to search for potential grantees that match your criteria. - Q: How do I evaluate the impact of my foundation? - A: You can evaluate the impact of your foundation by collecting and analyzing data on the outputs, outcomes, and impacts of your grants. You can also use qualitative methods, such as interviews or surveys, to gather feedback and stories from your grantees and beneficiaries.
Foundations 101: How to Start and Run a Great Foundation Stephen L. Isaacs