Benchmarking Foundation Governance

Publication date: 
October, 2015
The Center For Effective Philanthropy

For this report on foundation board governance, The Center for Effective Philanthropy surveyed the CEOs of 64 independent foundations in the United States making $10 million or more in grants annually.

The median asset size for foundations in the sample was about $462 million and the median annual giving level was about $22 million. The median number of full-time equivalent staff working at foundations in this study was 24. Thirty-nine percent of respondents had been the CEO of their foundation for 10 years or longer.

The 17-page report contains infographics related to board composition, expertise, stucture, practices, meetings and involvement. The results prompted Phil Buchanan, CEP president, to ask four questions:

  1. Is this practice of providing board members discretionary funds really necessary to attract strong board members?
  2. What’s stopping foundation boards from delegating more grantmaking authority to staff?
  3. Why aren’t more foundations taking stock of their own effectiveness through a self-assessment process?
  4. Is 16 hours a year in full board meetings enough?

The report is available for free download from The Center of Effective Philanthropy.