Foundation Management, Strategy

Building a Foundation from Scratch

This individual had successfully built up her own family office – complete with a team of in-house investment, legal and administrative support – and had now set her sights on building her legacy as a philanthropist. In order to navigate the complex social and political waters of philanthropy, she wanted to be able to call on different expertise, abilities and networks as needed, without having to permanently hire more people.

Our Role

We worked with the client to develop her long-term giving strategy. First, we helped her to articulate her values and to identify the issues that she wanted to address through philanthropy. Furthermore, we helped her understand the resources at her disposal for tackling these issues; as with most of our clients, time is her most precious resource and, hence, has been the biggest constraint to increasing the impact of her philanthropy.

One person from our team embedded himself into the family office, where he worked part-time with the client. He has, together with the existing team at her family office, conducted a thorough analysis of the present work and has taken care of related day-to-day operational tasks of the various projects being supported (including several strategy sessions with board members to consolidate and re-orientate the work of the foundation). Meanwhile, our teams in Zurich and Geneva were able to step in when necessary to provide additional expertise for various projects and tasks. At all times, our client has been able to maintain ultimate decision-making power and asset management control.

Project Success

The client has been able to successfully establish her family’s foundation and to begin grant-making activities. Our solution has allowed our client to focus on the larger strategic decisions at hand instead of worrying about the day-to-day work of her foundation. Furthermore, by taking advantage of our networks built over 60 years working in development and humanitarian aid, our client has been able to leverage her time and financial resources to maximize the impact of her philanthropic engagements.

The largest benefit for our client has come from the integrated approach to handling her philanthropy. Our client’s needs are best served by a full spectrum of services – from project planning and management, to the coordination of consistent communication with various stakeholders, at times even representing the client in meetings – that has enabled her to begin to make measurable progress toward her philanthropic ambitions.

Having someone from our team embedded at the family office, albeit part-time over 12 months, has allowed the client to leverage her time and stay involved with the various philanthropic initiatives in a more consistent manner.

What We Learned

We were also reminded that the effects of philanthropy go well beyond the beneficiaries that our clients support. That is, by taking the time to create the structure that is right for our clients, we can maximize the satisfaction they gain from working on their philanthropic aspirations.