The Foundation Guidebook - Exponent Philanthropy

The Foundation Guidebook

The Foundation Guidebook provides the baseline knowledge you need for running a foundation so that you can get on to the important work of making a difference. You will learn how to build a foundation through thoughtful design and careful construction. Recognizing, though, that you have a lot to do in too little time, this guidebook focuses on practical ways to get the job done simply.

This Book Is for You, Whether You Are:

  • Starting a foundation or filling a position that has existed for decades.
  • Serving as board member, executive director, administrator—or all three!
  • Running a foundation that was established as a nonprofit corporation or trust.
  • Hoping to engage family members or to turn instead to community members.
  • Planning for a foundation life of 10 or 100 years.
  • Operating with volunteers or are fully staffed.

Key Topics Covered Include:

  • Focus
  • Board of Directors
  • Tax and Legal Issues
  • Investments
  • Administration
  • Grantmaking

The Foundation Guidebook Table of Contents


Designed With Purpose: Focus
The Power of a Focus
Have an Open Discussion
Take Steps to Find a Focus
Build a Powerful Mission


Architects of the Plan: Board of Directors  
The Full Board’s Roles and Responsibilities  
An Individual Board Member’s Duties  
Choosing Effective Board Members  
Orienting and Engaging Your Team  
Building Healthy Boards
Tips for the Best Board Meeting Ever
Policies That Build, Not Burden


Building to Code: Tax and Legal Issues
Nonprofit Sector 101
The Essence of Essential Documents
An Overview of the Private Foundation Laws
Tax Filing Requirements


Laying the Groundwork: Investments
Starting with Strategic Board Decisions
Choosing an Oversight Structure
Developing and Implementing an IPS
Deciding Who Will Oversee and Manage Investments
Filling the Role of OCIO, Investment Consultant, or Investment Manager  
Evaluating Your Investment Professionals
Staying Legal with Your Investments  


Putting the Structure in Place: Administration
Putting the Right People on the Right Tasks
Determining the Right Compensation Level
Choosing a Work Location
Managing Your Foundation’s Financials
Keeping Reasonable Records
Using Technology to Lighten the Load


Putting Out the Welcome Mat: Grantmaking
Defining Your Grantmaking Strategy
Designing an Application Process and Form
Creating a Work Plan and Timeline
Communicating It All in Grant Guidelines
Making Grant Decisions
Communicating with Grantees
Monitoring and Evaluating Your Grants

125 pages