Setting Up a Private Foundation

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A private Foundation had been previously established to serve as a vehicle for the wealth generator (funder) for what otherwise acted as checkbook giving – the act of making one off gifts to charities without overarching strategy.  When the funder passed and the estate was bequeathed to the Foundation, the Board members were charged with setting up and launching meaningful grantmaking in honor of a well-known and respected benefactor.


The Board recognized they needed to hire an Executive Director to run the Foundation, but both the Board and the Executive Director roles needed to be delineated.  Similarly, the Board who had all been colleagues and friends of the funder and had minimal philanthropic experience, needed to undertake a process of translating the funder’s directive into grant making focus areas and then subsequently develop the process to begin grantmaking; something no one was familiar with.


Many Board strategy conversations were held to determine how to reflect the funder’s legacy into the grantmaking and it was decided that it would be flexible and open to honor the irreverent and anti establishment work of the funder. Careful research into the giving focus area was also done to ensure the grants would be inclusive and additive to the community, and then were translated into grantmaking guidelines.  Given the benefactors public persona, a communications and media plan was developed to ensure that the launch of the Foundation’s new efforts were done tastefully.


The Foundation is about to announce the recipients of the second round of grant funding.  Grant applications were received in both rounds that accurately match the targeted audience, and peers in the field have positively received the addition of a new funder to the scene.