The ramp-up period in a foundation’s life cycle is an exciting time. Additional resources often allow foundation leadership to think and act in new ways, fueled by a sense of the possibilities for funding new grantees, onboarding new trustees and staff, making new investments in foundation infrastructure, and exploring new strategic directions.

Donors vary considerably in the specificity and intentionality of their “donor intent”. Of course, some are very explicit about how they would like or even require successor trustees to steward the assets after their passing, with carefully crafted legal documents or side letters that specify recipients and issue areas.

Foundation boards we have worked with have found a number of ways to honor and respect the donor’s grantmaking during the ramp-up process and manage a smooth transition from one stage of the foundation to the next. Changing times and an influx of resources will likely call for new strategies and the next generation of trustees may operate differently from the founding donor.

Founding donors often manage their foundations like a personal charitable checking account and base much of their giving on personal relationships. Successor boards can develop a communications and transition strategy that allows the foundation to select legacy organizations they wish to keep in their portfolio, those they want to gradually move away from, and those they may want to honor through a significant final grant.

Read the full article about ramping up donor giving by Ellen Remmer at The Philanthropic Initiative.