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Philanthropy is a fluid undertaking, and smart foundation trustees and staff recognize that they should find a way to continually learn and improve — both in their internal practices and culture and in their grantmaking strategies.

These are five key questions you can ask yourself to set your foundation on a successful course:

Is a foundation the best charitable-giving vehicle for us? What do we want to accomplish? Who do we need in our network?How will we invest in our own success? How will we continue to learn?

Remember that foundations operate within specific parameters and under regulations that may hamper a donor’s ability to achieve his or her vision. However, if you wish to cultivate a growing corpus of charitable assets and want to be deeply engaged in how they are invested (in both the markets and your community), then a foundation is likely the right choice for your philanthropy.

Also, by prioritizing what is important and what can be let go it will help one recognize where an impact is most needed in addition to where contributions can have the largest ripple.

Investing in the right equipment, hiring the right people and finding the right advisors all enhance the effectiveness of the organization.

Create networks of advisors, other funders, trusted grantees, community leaders and others in your area who can enrich and leverage your philanthropic investments with their own financial, intellectual or social assets.

Finally, you’ll need to define grantmaking strategies, create a sensible grantmaking process and time line, develop an investment policy for your corpus and much more.

There are many other considerations that go into making a new foundation run well. These steps will be more effective if you’ve first taken the time to consider the questions above.

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