Practical Guidance

Resources for establishing and preserving donor intent

The following is a section of The Philanthropy Roundtable's extensive Donor Intent Resource Library. Click here to see the full library.

"When Philanthropy Goes Wrong" by Adam Meyerson

In this special Wall Street Journal essay, Adam Meyerson discusses the importance of protecting donor intent and how donors—whether large or small—can take concrete action to safeguard their philanthropic principles. 


Protecting Donor Intent: How to Define and Safeguard Your Philanthropic Principles by Jeffrey J. Cain

The Philanthropy Roundtable published this guidebook for successful individuals who want to ensure that their intent is followed within the grantmaking organizations they found. It covers every major practical consideration and highlights the best strategies for securing donor intent. Using real-life examples, topics include deciding on a timeframe, defining a mission, choosing philanthropic vehicles, selecting board members, and instituting safeguards, both internally and externally, that will help reinforce donor intent.


"Why Donors Must Protect Their Philanthropic Principles" by Adam Meyerson

Adam Meyerson highlights the need for Jeff Cain's Protecting Donor Intent by discussing examples of grantmaking institutions which have strayed from the principles of their initial donors. With this guidebook, The Philanthropy Roundtable hopes to help philanthropists think through the best strategies for carrying out their charitable purposes and core values.


"Letter to an Aspiring Philanthropist: Advice on Starting a Foundation from One Who Has Been There" by Randy Richardson

A 70-something philanthropist looks back on what he's learned, starting with his wobbly beginnings at the family foundation in his 20s. He casts a skeptical eye on perpetuity and warns, "If you don't have well-thought-through ideas about the focus of your foundation, don't create it."


"Daniel C. Searle: 1926-2007" by Kimberly O. Dennis

How one notable philanthropist used both a detailed mission statement and a set of three governing committees to spell out his intent and ensure it would be respected.


"The Biggest Mistakes You Can Make When Choosing Board Members" by Jeffrey J. Cain

In this session from the 2010 Annual Meeting of The Philanthropy Roundtable, the president of the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation explains why choosing board members may be the most important decision you make. He offers guidance in how to select your trustees carefully and how they can perpetuate themselves after you're gone.


"Putting the 'Trust' back in 'Trustee'" by Edwin J. Feulner

A trustee of South Carolina's Roe Foundation explains the way its founder selected outside groups to monitor the foundation's fidelity to his intent, and, if necessary, to sue the foundation if it strays from its founding mission.