Key Insights from the 2023 Foundation Operations and Management Report - Exponent Philanthropy
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Key Insights from the 2023 Foundation Operations and Management Report

Exponent Philanthropy is proud to release the latest edition of the Foundation Operations and Management Report (FOMR). This premier benchmarking resource offers mission-critical statistics on grantmaking, boards and governance, investments, and administration – including salary and benefits – for foundations with few or no staff.

Below are some initial interesting findings from the 2023 edition. We encourage you to read the entire report, and as always, please reach out if you have questions. Nonmembers can also download the full Executive Summary for free.

Top 3 Foundation Challenges

The 2022 survey asked participants to rank their top three foundation challenges. We aggregated those scores to get the following:

  1. The board not considering succession
  2. Needing a stronger grantmaking focus
  3. Lack of long-term asset growth

The full report has the ranked list of all 16 challenges. If any resonate with you, we encourage you to explore our upcoming programs.

Grantmaking Impact

In the 2022 survey, we asked participants to rate the impact their foundation had on the community on a scale from one (no impact) to 10 (substantial impact). On average, foundations rated their impact as seven, suggesting they felt they had a moderate impact on their community. Foundations’ self-assessed level of impact varied by grantmaking approach and relevance of racial equity.

  • Foundations that said racial equity was very relevant to their mission perceived a slightly higher level of an impact compared to foundations that said racial equity was not relevant or somewhat relevant to their mission.
  • Foundations with a very focused approach to grantmaking perceived a slightly higher level of an impact compared to foundations with an unfocused or somewhat focused approach to grantmaking

Investment Returns and Mission Investing

Participating foundations reported a mean net investment return of 13.1% and a median return of 13.0% in 2021. These findings did not vary by investment strategy or asset size. One-fifth (20%) of respondents engaged in mission investing, and another 10% planned to in the next few years. While 31% of funders feared that mission investing would not garner the same returns as traditional investing, we found that foundations who’d engaged in mission investing had slightly higher investment returns compared to foundations that did not.

Access the 2023 Foundation Operations and Management Report

Download the FOMR Executive Summary for Free

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About the Author

Brendan McCormick is the associate director of research and publications at Exponent Philanthropy. He works with members, partners, and staff to develop resources and research on our funder community. Brendan previously worked for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Greater Washington Community Foundation. He earned his master’s degree in public policy at the University of Maryland where he focused on nonprofit management and social policy.

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