4 Ways to Reenergize your Foundation Board


Your board is good at what it does. You have experienced trustees and good infrastructure, but you would like to try fresh approaches, reenergize your foundation board, and experience your giving more fully. This outline may be your springboard to action.

Revisit your mission

Assess whether the focus of your activities aligns with your mission, your goals, and changing community needs. If there is a lack of synergy, seize this as an opportunity to reaffirm your mission and assess the possibilities for greater impact.  It may be time to:

  • Engage in strategic planning
  • Reconsider your definition of impact
  • Convene your grantees for first-hand feedback
  • Launch a new program initiative

Consider a fresh approach

Maximize the results of your foundation’s current operations and board efforts. Board tasks and meetings may have become rote and uninspiring. Discuss whether to:

  • Implement a program of board education and holistic discussion
  • Shift investment strategy to align with programs, mission or impact
  • Adopt a new meeting format that sparks creativity, energy, and participation
  • Rotate officers to build depth and share responsibilities

Strengthen relationships

Bring stakeholders closer together for effective decision making and teamwork. The successful board is essentially a team working together toward common goals. Take time to:

  • Socialize with board and staff members
  • Learn together by attending a conference or watching a webinar and discussing key concepts
  • Get to know each other in fun ways, a foundation trivia tournament or trustee bake-off (!)
  • Engage community advisors to build deeper relationships with constituents

Plan for foundation board renewal

Take time to look ahead to ensure board continuity and succession. Whether your foundation will exist in perpetuity or for another 25 years, a plan for board development is essential.  Consider these next steps:

  • Create a profile of how the board should evolve
  • Develop a pipeline for identifying and process for selecting future board members
  • Appoint apprentice board members or committees to prepare future leaders

Mary Phillips has helped private and family foundation boards reach their goals for over 35 years. Contact Mary at mphillips@gmafoundations.com