Setting the Strategy

Published on: January 16th, 2014 by Hank Goldstein


For a new or emerging family foundation strategic focus is  one of the first orders of business. Regardless of foundation type or size strategic planning basically reaches to consideration of four elements and their interaction:

  • Your desired programmatic direction (and that often takes time to evolve – especially in dual generation grantors )
  • Funds available
  • Your foundation’s governance and stewardship. Often foundations begin with  one or two family members. But as the foundation grows that sometimes changes to include children, trusted advisors or even outside directors
  • Management. At what point and at what level might professional staff be employed?

There is an extensive literature on strategic planning for business and for nonprofits. Unfortunately most of it is useless, jargon-filled, or wedded to some particular organizational development bias. Reduced to its essentials there are just a few critical questions around which strategic planning should  proceed:

  • Where does the foundation want to be in 3-5 years in terms of mission, vision, values and funding levels?
  • How will it get “there” in terms of goals and objectives (strategy and tactics)?
  • How will the results for both the foundation and for its grantees be measured?

FFM/C’s role in strategic planning is to help you ask the right questions – and help you get to the right answers. Those answers fit your philanthropic aspirations, take  into account grantees’ real needs (which may not always align with your idealized notions) – and bring you the greatest satisfaction.

Hank or Betsy would be delighted to chat, no obligation of course.




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