As my foundation begins it strategic planning for the future, a question was posed in a staff meeting today that got me to thinking. What are the characteristics of a great foundation in the early 21st Century?
Since I eventually want to run a foundation I have asked a similar question to myself. My past questions, though, have been more around the scenario of new leadership at an established foundation. But what if tomorrow I won one of those outrageous multi-million dollar lotteries that you hear about occasionally on the news and could start a foundation from scratch? What would it look like?
I think mine would study closely the "Tao of Trista": allow Program (and maybe even grants) staff to be outside of the office more than inside. I too believe that program staff needs to know the ins and outs of the community being served, the challenges and potential solutions, the key players and the effective organizations. They can't know that from staying inside at their desks, reviewing proposals. We would fund operational support in addition to specific programs. We would be front and center in the digital age, taking advantage of all that technology has to offer. We would be transparent, possibly even allowing the public to attend board or program review committee meetings. And we would continually learn from both the failures and the successes.
What are the characteristics of your 21st century foundation?