A new client asked for “practical help” in the start up phase of her newly funded foundation. She had contributed significant assets to the foundation and hired a colleague to work as staff for the foundation. She chose this particular colleague because of her issue area expertise in women’s health. The client and her new staff person, however, did not have any prior experience running or working at a private foundation. The client was excited to get started but—given the large amount of assets in the foundation—came to us first to ensure that she and her staff person were adequatly prepared for the challenge before them.
Over an intense two-day retreat, we conducted a “Foundation Bootcamp.” We worked through the following topics: 1) Foundation Strategy and Grantmaking Procedures; 2) Foundation Administration and Governance; 3) Foundation Compliance, including board member responsibilities and common legal mistakes foundations make; and 4) Grantmaking Best Practices, incuding establishing a philanthropic network, ways to best evaluate grants and how to maintain a diversified grants portfolio. In the process, we provided the client with appropriate sample documents.
Throughout the bootcamp, the client kept repeating the addage that “it is easy to give money away, but much more difficult to give money away well.” After the bootcamp, she felt prepared with the key information to begin to give money away “well.” Eighteen months after our Bootcamp session, the Foundation was randomly picked for audit by the IRS because of a technical glitch. After the audit was complete, we heard from the client that her foundation accountant commended the client and staff person for the “easiest audit in years” because of the preparation that began during our work together.