It’s Foundation Friday, and we are pleased to share an inside look into the important work that our client, The Bowman Family Foundation (BFF), is doing to support mental health. While the primary mission of the BFF is to improve the lives of people with mental illness, they also provide funding to support the education and welfare of children. In our recent interview with President Matthias B. Bowman, he shared what inspired him to start his foundation, current projects and initiatives he’s excited about, his foundation’s accomplishments, and more.
About Your Philanthropy
What inspired you to start your foundation?
Simply a wish to give back to our community.
What causes are you most passionate about?
Solving the mental health, substance use, suicide and overdose crises by ensuring broadscale access – especially for young people – to treatments that are proven to be effective.
What projects/initiatives are you excited about currently?
Implementing the “Collaborative Care Model” (“CoCM”) – a self-funding, proven way to deliver mental health and substance use care – in pediatric and PCP offices in local communities throughout the country.
What is one of your private foundation’s achievements that you are proud of and why?
Being a founding member of the Path Forward for Mental Health and Substance Use, which is actively pursuing implementation of CoCM, and founding PsyberGuide, which is the leading source of unbiased reviews of mental health apps.
Can you tell us about a time when you were able to see the impact of your giving?
A study we designed and funded, which is focused on the inequities of access to mental health care versus physical health care, has become a tool widely used by employers as well as federal and state regulators.
How do you stay connected with other philanthropists?
Primarily through direct conversations.
Do you work with other funders? If so, how?
Yes. For example, the Goodness Web recently committed $1.8 M to the Path Forward, a third of which is focused on promoting implementation of CoCM. Separately, three other funders recently committed an aggregate of $200,000 to another mental health project that BFF is leading.
What would you want other philanthropists to know about your work?
We are committed to improving access to effective mental health and substance use (MH/SU) treatment, implementing proven medical practice changes, and we are working day-to-day with leading experts regarding such implementation.
About Your Foundation
How do you engage your family in your foundation?
My wife and I make most decisions, but two of our children are becoming more involved.
Do you have any advice for people looking to start or grow their own private foundation?
Spend a lot of time deciding what one or two areas you care the most about, and focus at least 90% of your time and dollars in those areas. There are an endless number of very worthy causes – you cannot move the needle on any if you are spread too thin.
Is there a unique foundation feature that has helped you pursue your mission?
Yes. By having a foundation (versus a donor-advised fund), we are able to have a “presence” with a track record, a website, etc. We also enter into contracts to commission work by for-profit or non-profit entities. For us, contracting has become our primary mode of “doing business”. These features of a foundation structure can add to a donor’s ability to make an impact.
Working with Foundation Source
How does Foundation Source help you achieve your goals?
By providing advice on key strategy decisions (such as when we established a subsidiary), and allowing us to not spend our time on administrative/tax matters.
Can you tell us a little about your experience working with the Foundation Source team?
We have been a client since 2008. The entire experience has been a pleasure – great advice, novel ideas that had not occurred to us, and minimization of the administrative functions that we would otherwise have to staff.
How was the process of getting your private foundation set up or transitioned to Foundation Source?
Very easy. Our trust company (Brandywine) had been handling our foundation’s affairs. Brandywine actually identified Foundation Source as the best service provider in this area and encouraged all of its clients to migrate to Foundation Source, which was seamless.
Want to learn more about the ways we support private foundations?
Whether you are looking for support for your existing foundation or want to create a private foundation, our philanthropic specialists are here to help. To learn more, schedule a call with us here or reach us at 800-839-0054. Together, let’s #begiving.