Ah, April – the season for accounting and paperwork. In the spirit of looking back, organizing, and checklists we put together a list of things all family foundations should be considering on an annual basis. Although it’s hard to make time for reflection, making time to consider the following areas once a year is key to running a successful foundation.
Review of bylaws and articles of incorporation:
- Were we in compliance with all of our bylaws last year? Do we have all our officers in place? Did each officer do what was outlined in the bylaws?
- Do we need to amend anything in our bylaws? (Make sure you send a copy to the IRS).
- Are our bylaws consistent with our articles of incorporation?
Review of our mission statement:
- Are we fulfilling our mission? In what ways?
- Does our grant making reflect that mission?
- Does all our written communication (website, grant letters, social media) reflect our mission?
Review of Family Roles:
- Are all interested and eligible family members engaged and providing their greatest value?
- What is the leadership succession plan?
- Is there a better opportunity or plan to integrate the next generations?
- Are our family values aligned with the mission of the foundation and the execution of our grantmaking?
Review of partners/grantees:
- Who are our partners? Individual contributors, grantees, other partners.
- In what ways are we serving our partners? In what ways could we do it better?
- Are there opportunities to collaborate with other foundations on specific initiatives or programs?
- Are we members of appropriate and helpful peer associations? (For example, Southern California Grantmakers, Council on Foundations, and The National Center for Family Philanthropy).
- Check in on grantees status. Are they all up-to-date?
Review of investments:
- Are our investments performing adequately?
- Are there opportunities to do program related investment?
- Is our evaluation process realistic for our culture or should it be updated?
Review of regulations:
- Have any state or federal laws changed?
- Is our insurance up to date?
- Are our permits and licenses up to date?
- Have we made our 990 available publicly in accordance with laws?
Review of Financial Position:
- Is our capital invested with the right firm and in the most appropriate vehicles in accordance with our bylaws and investment objectives?
- Have we met regularly with our trusted advisors including financial advisors, accountants and lawyers for an annual or more frequent check-in?
- What is our long term strategy? What are the pros and cons of spending down or working in perpetuity?