Reimagine the Council

The Council on Foundations joins all Americans in expecting a careful accounting of all votes and an expeditious and certain outcome in the 2020 Presidential election. Whatever the result, we are heartened by the historic turnout because a healthy democracy depends on robust participation from citizens.

As 2019 comes to a close, I’m reflecting on my first year at the Council on Foundations. I’m proud of the strides we’ve made in forging strong relationships across the sector, moving our policy agenda forward, supporting the professional growth of members and reimagining both our membership model and our vision for the future of the Council.

Since joining the Council’s board last year, I’ve had the honor to support two pivotal decisions that will shape the organization’s future – selecting a new President & CEO and launching the Council’s new membership model. This is an exciting time for the Council on Foundations and I am confident we are taking an approach that will better meet the needs of members and partners for years to come.

Several years ago, the Council on Foundations Board made a decision that I have felt for some time needed to be revisited. We voted to approve a new membership model that we thought would ensure long term financial health for the Council. The outcome of that decision, however, did not play out in the manner we anticipated. In fact, the new dues structure had an adverse impact on a number of our members, particularly small and medium sized foundations as well as community foundations, many of whom were priced out of the Council community. While this was never the Board’s intention, we take responsibility for causing these valued members to feel alienated from the Council community.

We announced our work to reimagine Council membership and asked for feedback as we review Council membership and dues. More than 400 individuals – representing grantmaking organizations of different types, sizes, geographies, and member status – responded to our survey and shared ideas. Natalie Ross discusses what we learned from the responses.