Getting the Most Out of Philanthropy: How to Reinvent the Foundation Board

Reprinted with permission from the January 2017 issue of Trustee magazine, vol. 70, no. 1. © Copyright 2017 by Health Forum Inc. Permission granted for digital use only

By Betsy Chapin Taylor

Health care is in a period of transformation as reimbursement  and delivery systems make the leap from payment based on volume to payment based on value. Philanthropy is playing a role in this transformation.

Progressive health care organizations are turning to philanthropy — no longer looked upon simply as a way to fund the “nice to haves” — to secure sustainability, enable excellence and achieve market objectives. To maximize the financial potential of philanthropy, organizations must re-examine and reconsider the leadership responsibilities of their foundation board of directors.

Roles, responsibilities and expectations of foundation board members have remained relatively constant over the past four decades. These days, the growing need for philanthropic resources to respond to sweeping changes in the field demands innovation in the way the board’s work is considered and advanced. Foundation board roles must reflect health care’s emerging fiscal reality and better position the board to create value.

To maximize the impact and effectiveness of the foundation board there needs to be clarity about the role of the foundation itself, tighter alignment with the supported health care organization, a focus on leveraged roles and responsibilities of individual board members, and other elements of diligence to elevate board performance and philanthropy’s impact.

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