Foundation Source

Questions answered by Sharon Schneider, Philanthropic Director at Foundation Source.

What part of your organization involves young people? In what capacity?

Foundation Source enables philanthropic families to engage young people in every part of their foundation operations and decision-making. Our technology platform provides a virtual command center for families to run their foundation and for young people to have a window into the grantmaking and governance of their family foundation. Through Foundation Source Online, all family members can:

  • Do research on potential grantees
  • Submit grant recommendations to the board, or be part of the grant committee themselves
  • Have discretionary granting authority to make their own giving decisions within the foundation’s mission
  • See past grant history, access historical foundation documents and other key information about their family’s philanthropy

In addition, younger family members are personally supported by a dedicated Private Client Advisor who knows them and their family and can help provide guidance on foundation business.

For young people interested in pursuing non-traditional philanthropy (like social investing, granting to individuals or hands-on international work), our Philanthropic Directors are available to provide “just-in-time” consulting to help them flesh out and then execute on their big ideas while staying on the right side of byzantine IRS regulations. Philanthropic Directors also can be instrumental in helping the family to integrate young people into the governance of the foundation, conducting family meetings, strategic planning sessions or brainstorming fun ways to involve the whole family. Foundation Source recently launched a year-long Executive Director Institute specifically for young family members who are, or would like to be, running the foundation. We also have an International Institute to provide hands-on education for all family members to gain on-the-ground experience and knowledge about how to be an effective international donor.

In all, Foundation Source provides young family members with the kind of concrete day-to-day support they need to be an integral member of the family foundation, and to help the foundation be effective in accomplishing its mission.

Why should young philanthropists become a part of your network/engaged with your organization?

Traditionally, family foundations have been largely “mom and dad’s thing” with little room for younger family members to get involved. But through technology and personalized support services, Foundation Source takes the traditional model of a family elder controlling the checkbook and turns it into a distributed model where younger family members can have the same access to foundation information and granting ability as older generations. For young philanthropists who would like to become more involved in their family foundation, Foundation Source provides the technology and support to let them actively engage without regard to geography or time constraints (so they can make grants at midnight from a dorm room far from home or during their evening off during their new year-long assignment in Singapore).

In addition, Foundation Source has an unparalleled community of other young philanthropists associated with their own family foundations already on board. We serve almost 1,000 foundations and over 6,000 family members of all ages. This allows us to bring people together with similar interests in similar circumstances, as in the case of the Executive Director Institute.

At the same time, young philanthropists within the Foundation Source family are not relegated to the “kiddy table.” Because we serve entire families, we are able to help these families define a pathway to greater involvement for their younger members. From grant certificates celebrating major milestones to positions on junior boards, from informal apprenticeships to formal directorships, older generations trust Foundation Source to help prepare subsequent generations for leadership in the family foundation. In short, we help young philanthropists to thrive within the context of their family’s existing philanthropic vehicle.

What distinguishes you from other young philanthropy support groups?

Our expansive client base means that we create and share best practices based on not just one or even 20 families, but hundreds and hundreds of families. Our clients are frequently creative, entrepreneurial grantmakers who bring fresh ideas to their approach to social change. With our knowledge of high-impact philanthropy combined with technical expertise in executing these exciting new approaches, Foundation Source is a particularly good fit for those who are interested in social investing, social entrepreneurship and other new approaches to philanthropy. In our view, you don’t have to issue RFPs and have a formal application process to be an effective grantmaker. In fact, many of our clients find they are more nimble, more effective and find their philanthropy more enjoyable without the bureaucracy and paperwork of some large institutions.

In addition to this vast experience, Foundation Source is different from other groups in that we support young philanthropists at every stage of their development: from helping them think through their initial ideas and connecting them with the best minds working on these problems, to actually designing a program and filling out the necessary paperwork to meet IRS requirements (right through to when we file the foundation’s annual 990-PF tax return), to navigating family dynamics to win board approval and reporting back to the family on accomplishments. “From inception to impact,” Foundation Source is a one-stop resource for young philanthropists to bring their big ideas to life, guided at every turn by professionals.

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