Foundation Leadership: Who Decides?

There is some serious movement afoot in the philanthropic sector. For years there has been talk of a massive leadership transition as baby boomers begin to retire, this transition hasn't happened for a lot of reasons (the economy and retirement investment returns being weak as the main culprits). But we are now starting to see the transition begin in the philanthropic sector.

Hiring a new CEO is one of the most important jobs a foundation board has. There is a another critical stakeholder when it comes to hiring the foundation CEO...grantees. Grantees are often looked at as the recipient of foundation good, rather than a consumer whose needs should be taken into account. Foundations can't meet their missions without the critical work of nonprofits, so their voice should be an important one in the hiring process.

A group of nonprofit and organizations dedicated to the success of the nonprofit sector have written an open letter to the board of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as they begin their search for a new CEO. The organizations have asked the board to select a CEO who:

-supports general operating grants for nonprofits

-understands the role that race plays in inequity

-supports high impact grantmaking through the support of advocacy and community organizing

-understands the limits of "strategic philanthropy" and will minimize the paperwork burden on nonprofits

I hope this kind of open communications brings the voice of a foundation's most important partner, nonprofits, into a decision that will impact the future of the sector.