Donor Intent

Defining and Preserving Donor Intent

Your success in philanthropy rests on your commitment to do the hard thinking about your mission, and then to build the best structure with the best people to pursue your charitable purpose. Find more articles and examples by clicking on these nine discussions:

  • Mission

  • Timeframe

  • Vehicle

  • Governance

  • Internal Operations

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  • Giving to Higher Education

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  • When Things Go Wrong

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  • Family Foundations

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  • External Threats to Donor Intent


We Are Here to Help

The Philanthropy Roundtable’s lineup of donor-intent services is designed to help charitable donors work through the challenging hurdles of ensuring that their philanthropic legacy is honored, both now and in future generations.

Our experts are available to come alongside you and guide you through the process of creating a roadmap for your donor intent.

Joanne Florino, Adam Meyerson Distinguished Fellow in Philanthropic Excellence, is our resident donor-intent expert and is available to assist you with specific questions.

Contact Joanne


    • Research

    Protecting Donor Intent Protects Giving

    by Jack Salmon
    • How-To Guide

    How to give through a charitable trust for your philanthropy

    • Video

    Balancing Donor Intent with Crisis Grantmaking

    Crisis Grantmaking
  • What are the biggest mistakes donors make that threaten donor intent?

  • Is there a checklist to make the right donor intent decisions?

  • How can I best protect donor intent in my family foundation?

Wisdom and Warnings

“Wisdom and Warnings” is a series that features philanthropic leaders who offer best practices for safeguarding donor intent. We believe honoring donor intent is one of the most effective ways to protect private giving, and is essential to a healthy philanthropic sector.

The Battle for Control of the Barnes Art Collection

In this short film, we explore the story of Albert Barnes, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who amassed one of the world’s most valuable art collections. Upon his death, power brokers moved the artwork against his stated will, violating donor intent.

How to Protect Donor Intent

In “Wisdom and Warnings: How to Protect Donor Intent,” you’ll hear advice from prominent philanthropists and grantmakers on how to protect a donor’s legacy, including providing written instructions, sunsetting a foundation – and giving while living.

Conversation with Carrie Tynan

In “Wisdom and Warnings: A Conversation about Donor Intent with Carrie Tynan, CEO of Adolph Coors Foundation,” Tynan discusses the history of the foundation and its mission to help people help themselves with limited government interaction.

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