What I offer for your private, corporate, or family foundation

Every day, I read headlines about a foundation granting this or that many millions of dollars. It's a loser's game by which to be measured.

One, someone will make a bigger grant tomorrow. Two, you're so much more than grants. You are the story that made you a foundation; the mission that drives you; the community in which you work; the goals you set; your relationships; and what your mano a mano efforts. Then, you should talk money.

I've been staff for a state arts grantmaker, consulted with United Ways, written for private and college foundations, done media for grantmaker associations (and sat on two boards), and more. I know you're special. It's time to tell others.

Here's how I might be useful:

  • Facilitate meaningful board retreats
  • Offer capacity-building workshops for your hardworking grantees and nonprofits
  • Advise and/or help create your communications structure
  • Develop issue reports, grants summaries, etc.
  • Assist with major announcements, including initiatives, new studies, and changes in key personnel

For your community foundation

 
I'm hard pressed to choose just one highlight from years of working with now-retired (as if) President Alice Fitzpatrick of the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut. She and her hardworking crew brought me in to ask my famous "Who cares?" question about their 25th anniversary in 2008, and then to help them merge with another community foundation to the northeast a few years later. 

For the 25th, we decided to give the gifts, namely a $1.5 million package of grants and endowments to 13 public libraries to ensure they will be around forever. The libraries have prospered as a result. Read about it.

I've been joyously working with community foundations for more than 20 years, from Las Vegas, Nevada to Oxford, England. I'm not a sentimental guy, but I love just about every aspect of community foundations.

Name it: bequest societies, donor advisor succession rules, investment policies, scholarship funds, spending rules, diversified portfolios, animal humane funds, endowed vs. non-endowed funds, community convenings, knowing everything about your community, its issues and strengths, and the wonderful people (including nonprofits) who are working to maintain the best and to fix the troublesome.

Admittedly, I am on the far end of being donor centric. For me, a great community foundation talks first about the services you offer to charitable people and only then about your discretionary programs (which were funded by those same people).

Here's how I might be useful to your community foundation:

  • Results-focused strategic planning, overall or for a specific aspect of your work.
  • Facilitate meaningful board retreats that "move the needle."
  • Offer capacity-building workshops for the nonprofits with whom you partner (you might call them "grantees", which is almost as bad as calling your fundholders "donors").
  • Offer counseling, support, ideas to communications, development, or program staff.
  • Conduct a thorough but constructive communications audit that reviews seven aspects of your "branding", from printed materials to social media to your word of mouth.
  • Revisit your "me, me, me" website so it says "you, you, you" (them). Then people will actually push the "how to start a fund" button.
  • Interviewing and writing stories. I’ve interviewed hundreds of charitable people at all levels of giving. It’s a major part of meaningful relationship building. I’ll show you how or interview your favorite giving partners. You should have a polished story and a delighted fundholder by the end.
  • Assist with major announcements, including initiatives, new studies, groundshaking gifts, and changes in top personnel.

We can also schmooze about spending rules in our downtime!

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