20 Ways a Philanthropy Advisor Can Help Your Foundation


Did you know that philanthropy advisors can play a vital role in your foundation’s success?


By partnering with these advisors, foundations can maximize their impact, improve their operations, and navigate the complex landscape of philanthropy with confidence. In this blog, I have highlighted 20 ways they can support and strengthen your organization.

1. Formulating your strategy: Philanthropy advisors for foundations can help you craft a transformational giving strategy that aligns with your mission and values, ensuring a focused and effective approach to grantmaking. This includes clarifying where you are today, where you want to be, and a plan to get there.

2. Implementing your strategy: Once your foundation creates its strategic plan, you need to implement it! Advisors can assist in translating your strategic plan into actionable steps, providing guidance on resource allocation, monitoring progress, and making course corrections.

3. Identifying your top priorities: Philanthropy can be overwhelming. With their expertise, advisors help foundations identify your top priorities for implementing your strategy and stay accountable for implementing them. They can also help you pinpoint the most pressing issues and opportunities, allowing for targeted investments that create the greatest impact.

4. Starting a foundation: From legal requirements to defining a mission, setting objectives, creating governance structures, and determining grantee selection criteria, philanthropy advisors for foundations guide every facet of launching a new charitable entity, guaranteeing a solid base for enduring success.

5. Identifying your funding interests: Some funders launch their foundations with a clear passion and focus, knowing exactly which causes and organizations to support. For the rest of us, however, it can be overwhelming to determine which issues to tackle. Advisors can help you explore your funding interests, assess alignment with your values, and make data-driven decisions about where to invest your resources.

6. Sunsetting a foundation: Many foundations are deciding to allocate all assets now for greater impact instead of existing in perpetuity. Philanthropy advisors can help you determine if and how you want to conclude operations, guide winding down activities, and create a “Foundation Sunset Master Plan” to ensure a meaningful legacy.

7. Creating a succession plan: How will funding decisions be made when the donors are no longer involved? What happens if our executive director leaves? Advisors can help you develop a comprehensive succession plan, prepare for leadership transitions, ensure a seamless transfer of knowledge, relationships, and responsibilities, and support the continuity of your mission.

8. Assessing and improving organizational culture: By evaluating your foundation’s culture, advisors can identify areas for improvement and provide tailored recommendations for fostering a healthy, inclusive, and high-performing organization.

9. Eliminating strategic friction that slows funders down: Advisors can pinpoint areas of inefficiency, misalignment, or miscommunication within your foundation, and provide solutions to streamline operations and enhance collaboration. This helps your foundation optimize its processes, leading to more impactful and timelier grantmaking.

10. Unifying the foundation’s leadership team: Advisors work with leadership teams to establish shared goals, improve communication, and facilitate collaboration for a more cohesive and effective organization.

11. Strengthening and aligning boards: By assessing board composition, structure, and practices, advisors provide recommendations to enhance board effectiveness and alignment with the foundation’s strategic vision. A well-aligned and high-functioning board is essential for effective governance and decision-making.

12. Coaching and advising foundation leaders: It’s lonely at the top! Philanthropy advisors for foundations offer tailored coaching and advisement to philanthropy executives and donors, providing a confidential sounding board and helping them develop leadership skills, achieve foundation goals, and navigate the complexities of leading philanthropy.

13. Facilitating collaboration and partnerships with other organizations: Philanthropy advisors can identify potential partners, foster collaboration, and develop joint initiatives that amplify impact. By leveraging synergies and pooling resources with like-minded organizations, your foundation can achieve more together than by working alone.

14. Ensuring legal and regulatory compliance: Advisors help foundations navigate complex legal and regulatory environments, minimizing risk and ensuring compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. This support protects your foundation’s reputation and helps maintain public trust in your work.

15. Providing guidance on grantmaking processes and best practices: How will potential grantees apply for funds? How will you decide which nonprofits to support? From application review to grantee reporting, advisors offer expert advice on streamlining grantmaking processes and implementing best practices.

16. Conducting due diligence on potential grantees: Advisors support foundations in thoroughly vetting potential grant recipients, ensuring that investments are directed toward organizations most aligned with your goals and strategy and best positioned for success.

17. Identifying opportunities for capacity building and technical assistance: One of the most effective ways philanthropists can support nonprofits is to help them build talent and organizational capacity. Philanthropy advisors for foundations can pinpoint areas where grantees may need additional support, and help foundations allocate resources to address these needs.

18. Evaluating and refining grantmaking portfolios: Advisors assist foundations in regularly reviewing their grant portfolios, evaluating effectiveness, and identifying trends. By conducting in-depth analyses and gathering feedback from grantees and stakeholders, advisors can provide data-driven insights and recommendations for refining your grantmaking strategies, reallocating resources, and uncovering new opportunities for impactful investments, ultimately ensuring your foundation’s philanthropic efforts remain relevant, adaptive, and high-impact.

19. Promoting inclusion, diversity, equity, and access within the foundation and its grantmaking: Philanthropy advisors for foundations can help identify and address systemic barriers, fostering a more equitable and accessible organization and approach to grantmaking. For example, they can assist in developing policies, practices, and grantmaking strategies that prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion, and access as well as provide training and support for staff and board members to build cultural competence and create an inclusive work environment.

20. Advising on ethical considerations and responsible philanthropy: With their expertise in the field, philanthropy advisors can guide navigating ethical dilemmas, ensuring that foundations maintain the highest standards of integrity and accountability. This may include advice on responsible investing, transparency, conflicts of interest, and best practices for engaging with grantees and communities.

In conclusion, philanthropy advisors play a vital role in empowering and strengthening foundations, providing expert guidance and support in a wide array of areas. By partnering with these advisors, foundations can maximize their impact, improve their operations, and navigate the complex landscape of philanthropy with confidence.

If you’re looking to unlock your foundation’s potential and take your philanthropy to new heights, I’m here to help. With over two decades of experience as a trusted philanthropy advisor, I can guide you through every step of the process. Click the button below to schedule a call with me today and start making a greater impact with your philanthropy!

Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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