Nearly all (95%) of foundation boards have at least one member with program-specific knowledge. Original donors have a seat on 22 percent of boards while 50 percent of boards have a family member of an original donor. All board members are compensated at 46 percent of foundations, while 7 percent of foundations compensate some but not all members.
The data, published by The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) in Cambridge, Mass., is based on survey responses from CEOs at 64 private, U.S.-based foundations paying out at least $10 million annually. The publication, entitled “Benchmarking Foundation Governance,” reports findings in board composition, member expertise and meeting habits.
“There is no single right way for a foundation board to organize itself,” Ellie Buteau, vice president of research at CEP said via a statement. “Form needs to follow function. That said, it can be very helpful to understand the range of choices foundation boards have made as board members consider what will work best for them.”
Other key findings from the report include:
95 percent of boards have at least one member with accounting or finance experience. Members with investment, legal and communications experience are present on 95 percent, 89 percent and 60 percent of boards, respectively;
39 percent of boards have discretionary funds to make grants with little or no staff involvement. The median total of discretionary funds is $50,000;
59 percent of boards delegate grant approvals under a certain threshold to foundation staff. The median grant threshold not requiring board approval is $125,000;
The median number of board meetings per year for surveyed foundations is four. * Meeting materials are distributed by hard copy at 63 percent of boards, via a secure web portal at 59 percent and via email at 31 percent of boards; and,
67 percent of boards have fixed terms for all of its members; 15 percent have fixed terms for some of its members; and, 48 percent of boards do not have a limit to how many terms a member can serve.
To review the report in full, visit www.effectivephilanthropy.org.