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Donor Intent

Clarifying Your Philanthropic Purpose

A vitally important step in safeguarding donor intent is defining and clarifying your mission statement. 

Donor Intent Resource Library

We have assembled an extensive resource library as part of our ongoing commitment to preserving, strengthening, and celebrating the principle of donor intent. Our resource library will direct you to the best articles, books, and panel discussions on the topic of establishing and preserving donor intent.

Get Help Protecting Donor Intent

From clarifying your charitable purpose to adopting effective governance structures, The Philanthropy Roundtable has services and resources designed to help you safeguard your donor intent.

Animated Mission Statement Video

Why should I craft a mission statement? How do I get started? What practical steps do I need to take?

Good Giving from the Grave

How donors and charities can plan wisely to avoid posthumous punch-ups

When Philanthropy Goes Wrong

In this Wall Street Journal essay, Adam Meyerson warns donors against the risk that their gifts will be redirected into purposes they did not intend and offers advice on how to prevent violations of charitable intent.

Going for Broke

How foundations sunset, and the reasons it’s becoming popular. 

Clawing Back Donor Intent After It Has Been Lost

Some cautionary examples from the experience of the Daniels Fund—a foundation that managed to reclaim its donor's intent.

Starting a Private Foundation

This publication provides guidance to individuals who are thinking of setting up a private foundation, or those seeking to reevaluate and amend an existing one.

The Insider’s Guide to Spend Down

A few years ago, the John M. Olin Foundation began the process of spending down its assets in preparation for closing its doors. It is now well along this path, and has learned a few lessons along the way.

Four Brothers and the Apocalypse

Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynastya surprising biography of the Koch family that offers a fascinating window into their life and philanthropy. 

Protecting Donor Intent

How to define and safeguard your philanthropic principles. This guidebook by Jeffrey J. Cain offers detailed guidance to philanthropists who want to ensure that the assets they dedicate to charity are disbursed as they intend. It identifies common pitfalls, explains relevant tradeoffs, and describes successful strategies used by other donors. It lays a broad range of options before you, and suggests ways you can define, secure, and perpetuate your charitable intentions.

Mission Possible

When defining your mission, what may seem obvious to you may not be obvious to others. Kim Dennis of the Searle Freedom Trust and Linda Childears of the Daniels Fund share from their first-hand experience what they have learned about writing an effective and enduring mission statement.

Port in a Storm

When a disaster hits, Americans are eager to open their wallets to help. Yet donors often have no clear idea of what happens to their contributions or whether they are used in the best ways possible. 

Interview with Christopher Oechsli

The president of Atlantic Philanthropies reflects on Chuck Feeney's legendary generosity, the value of bricks-and-mortar giving, and how to recover donor intent. 

Recovering Donor Intent If It’s Lost

Can a philanthropic organization left with no clear road map still honor its founder’s charitable intent? In this companion piece to his recent guidebook, Jeffrey Cain discusses means of rediscovering donor intent after it has been lost, and then preserving it into the future.

Giving It All

Alan Barnhart and his brother Eric owned a $250 million company. Owned. Past tense. Because they gave it away. 

100 Years of Experts Armed with Money…

...sure didn't do much for Cleveland. Community foundations at a milestone.

An Ugly Parks Plan

If New York’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, gets his way, the Big Apple will undo one of the most successful philanthropic experiments of the past three decades: transforming Central Park from decaying and dangerous to vibrant and verdant in just a few short years. 

Creating a Mission Statement to Preserve a Philanthropic Vision

With a clear and effective mission statement, a foundation can enact its vision and preserve the intent of its founding philanthropist.

Every Cause Is Not Alike

A legal battle with a New Jersey animal shelter proves to be a win for donor intent.