William H. Byrnes
In April, William H. Byrnes was appointed vice president of grants of the F. M. Kirby Foundation in Morristown, New Jersey. He has served as the foundation’s program officer for more than 10 years.
Founded by retail innovator F. M. Kirby with $1 million in 1931 (please see Philanthropy, November/December 2008), the foundation has provided long-term operating support for programs of interest to five generations of Kirby family members. Those areas of interest include education, health, medicine, arts and the humanities, civic and public affairs, religion, welfare, and youth organizations.
Byrnes’ main goal in his new position is to help the foundation to be more strategic in its grantmaking. “We’ll be starting, docket by docket, with a strong review of where we see—first and foremost—that the family’s interest lies, and where we see grantees providing more bang for our buck,” he says.
This process will be guided by management and family board members, who will carefully examine past and current grants to determine where future funding will go. “The board is highly involved with grantees they have a direct interest in, and has a solid working knowledge of all our grants,” explains Byrnes. He will draw from his previous experience as a fundraiser for Morristown Memorial Hospital and his work as a Kirby Foundation program officer. “I have a close working knowledge of each and every one of our grantees,” he says.
“The hardest part is saying no to worthy causes,” he says of the challenges facing the foundation. “But it’s important to be effective funders and philanthropists, and to stick to what you’re focused on. We must make sure the investments reflect the founder’s intent and maintain the ongoing philosophy that guides the giving.”
Before joining the Kirby Foundation, Byrnes worked at Morristown Memorial Hospital, the Morris County Department of Human Services, the March of Dimes, and the Boys and Girls Club of Trenton. He is a graduate of St. Vincent’s College and holds a master’s in administrative sciences from Fairleigh Dickinson University.