Home Health & Living 10 tips to make your foundation effective and great

10 tips to make your foundation effective and great

10 min read

This  article  is a must-read for you if a charity-based foundation is your goal or you want to reenergise an established one.

While you often desire to support worthy causes, your noble intention may not always translate to an effective charity-based foundation. For instance, giving away your money is easy, but deciding whom to give, when to give, for what purpose, and how much is not easy.

So, here are ten tips to make your foundation effective and great. You may need all, or just a few.  Then again remember that  your impact as a philanthropist stands a better chance when your foundation strives for effectiveness and greatness:

Build good governance

10 tips to make your foundation effective and great

Many foundations are family-initiated. And very often the wealth that funds the foundation, comes from one member of the family, while others donate it away. On the positive side, family-initiated foundations bring a sense of pride and enduring commitment. These can be great assets in generating results. On the other hand, they can carry family dynamics over to the foundation, thereby producing divisive conflict or separation.

So, to manage your family dynamics, it’s essential to put good governance structures and processes in place. Such as a well-defined board of directors including outside members to facilitate productive decision-making and control conflict.

Institute High Levels of Professionalism

A foundation destined for greatness should establish strong business and talent management practices. As your foundation works to address some of the world’s most difficult problems, it’s harder for an informally run, unprofessionally staffed, foundation to ever rise to the challenge.

So what you need is a high level of professionalism and retention of the highest quality staff, working within a culture.  And, as such, utilizing strong business practices that allow them to excel in their work.

Identify the “Return on Investment”

When your foundation invests in a company that doesn’t use your money wisely, your wealth as the sponsor will decline. Therefore, identifying the foundation’s potential Return on Investment (ROI) creates a powerful motivation for giving effectively.

For instance, is your ROI about improving the family’s reputation in the community or it’s about the social impact your foundation wishes to have?

Apply flexible financial strategies

Most often, goals are best met through giving grants to CBO, NGOs, and other independent organizations. Sometimes goals are best met through making loans (impact investing). At times venture philanthropy (financial as well as technical and capacity-building support) can be the most effective approach.  But on rare occasions, goals are best met when your foundation sets up its operating program.

For that reason, analyze how a challenge can best be met. Then choose flexible effective financial strategies based on that analysis. For example, choose grants where grants will be the most effective strategy, loans where loans will be the most effective, etc.

Find your ‘comfort space’

10 tips to make your foundation effective and great

Resources are limited, even for the wealthiest, and the challenges are often limitless. But finding your “comfort space” helps you focus scarce resources for the greatest effectiveness.  Thus your “comfort space” is the intersection of passion (issues you care about), opportunity (biggest unmet needs), and assets (strengths and capabilities).

Take on major challenges

10 tips to make your foundation effective and great

For your foundation to be considered “great”, it must have a mission that seeks to address a major challenge or challenges. Hence your mission must focus on important issues that often require boldness and risk-taking.

Work for systemic change

10 tips to make your foundation effective and great

Systemic change means addressing the root causes of the challenge at hand. Frequently it’s about seeking sustainable change which demands patience and a willingness to invest for the long term.  While there is nothing wrong with charity-oriented programs such as feeding programmes, orphanages, etc, they are often critical. But for greatness, your foundation should seek long-term change rather than short-term alleviation.

Seek local and global partnership

Philanthropy is not a walk in the park since it’s mostly about competing for limited resources; good reason you should not go it alone. Try to work with other charitable organizations or government agencies focusing on the same problem as your foundation.

Partnering with others is an opportunity to learn from one another’s successes, and failures, and leverage each other’s strengths. Furthermore, cooperation can lead to greater satisfaction, and help your foundation retain its greatness during tough times.

Measure what matters

10 tips to make your foundation effective and great

It’s crucial to measure the effectiveness of your philanthropic activities. One way is to have a clearer understanding of the steps that will need to take place between the foundation’s programs and their ultimate impact, and then identify metrics that indicate whether the work is on the right track.

For example, your foundation may be focused on literacy improvement and believe that providing children with a conducive learning environment is the major driver.  However, rather than relying only on top-line measures like reduced illiteracy rates, you can identify interim ones like increased school attendance, more jobs for teachers, or the perception of children to learning.

Be accountable to your communities

Full accountability to beneficiaries of your foundation is crucial to effectiveness. Philanthropic projects will most certainly fail where there is no community support.

Bottom Line

Finally, keep track of these 10 tips in your foundation’s SWOT analysis recommended twice yearly. And on a last note, giving abundantly takes hard work. However, following these 10 tips to make your foundation effective and great can get your foundation moving to greater effectiveness. You will be amazed by the results.


Photo Credit: Creative Commons

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