Just Released: Small-Staff Foundation Benchmarks

By Henry Berman, ASF

survey report cover

Last week at ASF, we released the results of our biennial survey of member foundations, the 2013 Foundation Operations and Management Report.

For more than a decade, the Foundation Operations and Management Report has been a powerful tool for foundations, advisors, researchers, policymakers, and media—telling a story of small-staff philanthropy that is lean, agile, responsive, passionate, and personal.

Based on responses from 762 ASF member foundations, this year’s report provides critical data about how small-staff foundations operate and the important impact they have on communities around the world. The 54-page report covers administration, investments, governance, and grantmaking among ASF members.

Here are a few highlights: Continue reading

How We Made A Small Foundation Internship Work

By Michael V. Paul, Rita J. & Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation 

This is the second in a three-part series chronicling one foundation’s experience with having an intern. The first post was written by the foundation’s Executive Director. This second post is by the foundation’s Program Officer, and the third post will be by its current Intern. We hope the series will inspire other foundations to follow suit.

As one who is not far removed from the trials and tribulations of the modern day job search, I know how much an internship can help guide a jobseeker. I can attribute a nonprofit internship in college for guiding me to where I am today. Furthermore, as a Millennial at a small foundation, I yearn for the opportunity to develop professionally. For these reasons, and the many our Executive Director, Gali, explained in an earlier post, we decided to have an intern at our small foundation. Here’s how we did it.

First, we developed a framework to help navigate our intern search and key phases of the project. We determined our ideal candidate to be an undergraduate or recent graduate with: 

  • Little or no experience in the professional world, 
  • Potential for growth, and
  • Interest or curiosity in the nonprofit/philanthropic sector.

Along with these criteria, we hoped to find a person who would fit well in our office – someone with whom we could easily spend 8 hours each day.

Next, we drew up a job description to post on Idealist, a nonprofit job board. We considered the many tasks an intern might perform in our office and thought about how to translate them into a job post. We bunched these tasks into three areas: 

  • Project Tasks – Research current and potential granting areas, writing assignments, filing, and database projects. 
  • Learning Tasks – News research, trend and field analysis, resume/cover letter updating, and mock interviewing. 
  • Administrative Tasks – Management of day-to-day office systems. 

After whittling down our candidate pool to five, I conducted a series of interviews and ultimately selected a candidate who would be the best fit. 

Continue reading

Why We Started An Internship At Our Foundation

By Gali Cooks, Rita J. & Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation

This is the first in a three-part series chronicling one foundation’s experience with having an intern. The first post is written by the foundation’s Executive Director, the second by the Program Officer, and the third by the current Intern. We hope the series will inspire other foundations to follow suit.

Gali CooksI have always been a fan of internships. I had several internships in college and remember them fondly. They exposed me to the “real world” and had a profound impact on my professional direction.

So it was no surprise that about a year ago, when my Program Officer, Michael, and I started thinking of ways we could add value to our foundation, we thought about creating an internship. Continue reading

Throwing It All Away?

By Lauren Kotkin, ASF

My sister was born in the middle of a blizzard.

That is, my father flagged down a truck driver near their apartment in the NY suburbs to take them to the hospital—any hospital—because emergency services refused to pick them up. The driver drove them to the nearest hospital, and my sister was delivered by an unknown doctor.

The story is family lore.

Fast forward a few decades. My parents were schmoozing at a bar-mitzvah when my mother recognized a man in the crowd. She never forgets a name or a face. Sure enough, it was the doctor who delivered my sister. She said to him, “You probably don’t remember this, but…” and then introduced herself and thanked him with a smile. Continue reading