With 2016 approaching, many foundations will be charting their course for the coming year. Before moving forward, however, consider taking a look back. A thoughtful review of last year’s grantmaking priorities, social impact and finances can help inform what you do next year. Here are some topics you might want to discuss:
Fiscal Realities and Future Forecast
- Will the return on last year’s investments allow us to meet our planned distributions for the coming year?
- Will we our cash flow and cash reserves meet operational needs?
- Will we be receiving additional assets?
- How much of our budget did we spend on non-profits that we have traditionally supported? Was it enough?
- How much of our budget was spent on targeted programmes and how much on new opportunities? Was it enough?
- Will we want to set aside a ‘rainy day’ fund for serendipitous opportunities?
Foundations in the US, at least, can give board and/or family members a set amount of discretionary funds each year to donate as individuals, unless the charter specifically prevents it. This has both advantages – it fosters engagement and can incubate new programmes – and drawbacks – it diverts resources and focus from a common mission. If we choose this, what criteria will we apply? Will there be limits in terms of geographic or thematic area? Will the board need to approve them?
- What was our impact this year and what do we expect it to be next year?
- What realistic goals can we set?
- With these things in mind, and given current and anticipated resources, is this either too broad or too narrow?
- Do developments in our field call for a change of focus? (For example, a foundation devoted to finding a cure for a disease might want to move toward prevention if a promising vaccine is on the near-term horizon).
- Overall, are we satisfied with our impact?
The foundation was established to do good work, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fun to work on it. Consider the following:
- Have we devoted too much time to administration?
- Is the distribution of responsibility and work load fair?
- Are we all engaged and committed to our work?
- Have we fully leveraged everyone’s talents and skills?
And finally, any New Year’s resolutions?
- What were the challenges that went unmet last year?
- What do we want to do differently next year?
This post is based on Conducting Your Annual Review which can be downloaded from the Foundation Source website: http://www.foundationsource.com/resource_item/foundation-annual-review/