Options for Managing a Private Foundation

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Categories: Starting a Foundation Supporting Your Foundation

Search Topics: Foundation Management Private Foundations Basics

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Do-It-Yourself/Volunteer Board: Although cost-effective, managing your own foundation can be burdensome, time-consuming, and increase the risk for expensive compliance missteps.

Self-Selected Team of Advisors: Putting together a team that you know and trust (attorney, financial advisor, accountant, etc.) sounds ideal, and it might be economical, if they already handle your other business. However, it takes time and effort to coordinate their efforts, and they might not have the needed foundation-specific expertise, which often leads to errors.

Bank Trust Departments: Trust departments will typically provide foundation administration services, but you must keep the foundation’s assets at that institution, use their managers, and conform to their procedures. Although their administrative services are nominally “free,” the cost is often hidden in investment management and other fees.

Paid Staff: Experienced talent is difficult to find and expensive to hire. Even then, you’d probably have to supplement with outside consultants, as one person rarely has all the requisite skills.

Full-Service Foundation Support Company (like Foundation Source): Outsourced service provides, specifically dedicated to private foundations, are an increasingly popular choice. Although this can be somewhat more expensive than partial solutions, you get everything you need to manage your foundation in one place: administration, compliance monitoring, tax preparation/filing, and philanthropic advisory services. Plus you work with the financial advisor of your choice and retain complete control over the foundation’s investments.

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