Unrestrict grants that you have already given to nonprofits for project-specific activities so that they are able to make mission driven choices about their activities in 2009. Too many nonprofits can't make good decisions about what programs to keep, expand, or scale back during tough economic times because they have specific funding tied to those programs. Unrestrict those grants to make sure that organizations can focus on core programs.
Use 5% as a guideline, not a rule. When times are tough be there for the organizations that you financially support, even if it means that you are spending over 5%. Foundations do not exists to make sure that they continue to exists. Their donors got a tax break to have a positive impact on our communities.
Collaborate with other foundations to achieve impact. This is not a time for us to go at this alone. Turf battles are so 2008, so find some foundations with a common vision and figure out how you can coordinate your funding for maximum impact.
Think about your non-financial resources that would be useful to your nonprofit partners. Things like lobbyists, communications expertise, space, or information. Find new ways to get these resources to nonprofits.
Release your staff from the 9 to 5. I've never been a fan of arbitrary time schedules that don't match employee or community needs. Now is the time to figure out how to realign your foundation to measure results and not just hours clocked.
They say people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. As a new foundation head, I'm working on implementing all of these ideas in my foundation. It isn't easy, but it's necessary.
What other things would you like to see foundations implement in 2009?