Preserving Donor Intent: Control versus Continuity

Date:

Categories: Supporting Your Foundation

This white paper explores the mechanisms for preserving donor intent as well as the trade-offs associated with limiting a foundation’s future focus and activities.

Founders of private foundations are often concerned that one day, the foundation they created will stray from its original philanthropic mission. To minimize this possibility, some individuals purposefully structure their private foundations to ensure that their core values are preserved. The term “donor intent” has become associated with instituting restrictions to discourage or actively prevent private foundations from straying too far from the founder’s original vision.

This white paper explores the mechanisms for preserving donor intent as well as the trade-offs associated with limiting a foundation’s future focus and activities. It also explains how excessive restrictions can backfire or play out in unintended ways. In our experience, the key challenge for founders is striking the right balance between too much and too little control.

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