This is a rich collection of articles and information for donors serious about keeping their philanthropy focused on the causes they support, even after they have passed away. Includes a detailed Resource Library at
“When Philanthropy Goes Wrong” by Adam Meyerson
This text, condensed from a 2012 essay in the Wall Street Journal, sketches the risks when donors fail to carefully define the purposes and future control of their foundations.
The Great Philanthropists and the Problem of Donor Intent by Martin Morse Wooster
Wooster provides history’s worst examples of disrespect for donor intent as well as happier stories of donor intent preserved.
“Letter to an Aspiring Philanthropist” by Randy Richardson
Some brief advice from an experienced foundation head on what he calls the “Perpetuity Temptation.”
“The Principles of Public Giving” by Julius Rosenwald
In this Atlantic Monthly article, one of the great early philanthropists strongly encourages donors to resist setting up permanent bureaucracies that dribble out money in their name for centuries, and instead give more rapidly to address the needs of their present time, preferably while they are alive to guide the spending wisely. Read the full essay by clicking on the title above and read Martin Morse Wooster’s perspective in Philanthropymagazine.
Protecting Donor Intent: How to Define and Safeguard Your Philanthropic Principles by Jeffrey J. Cain
and Should Foundations Exist in Perpetuity? by Heather R. Higgins and Michael S. Joyce
Short guidebooks from The Philanthropy Roundtable which examine practical aspects of making sure a foundation stays true to the principles and interests of the donor, even after he or she passes from the scene.
Starting a Private Foundation: Carrying Out the Donor’s Intent by Paul Rhoads and Stephanie Denby
A short guide to the nitty-gritty of establishing a foundation that will respect its donor’s intent. Details the benefits and drawbacks of the conventional foundation, tax considerations, choice of location, and many other practical issues. Walks donors through the planning stage, initial funding, and opening meetings, as well as explaining the basics of record-keeping, grant guidelines, and more. Available at PhilanthropyRoundtable.org.
"Clawing Back Donor Intent After It Has Been Lost" by Evan Sparks
Some cautionary examples from the experience of the Daniels Fund—one of the few foundations that managed to reclaim its donor’s intent after straying. Excerpted from “Back to Bill,” originally published in the Fall 2011 issue of Philanthropy.