Client Story

This client foundation was established by a successful entrepreneur who invited her three adult children to serve on the board of directors. During the initial years of the foundation, their grantmaking was focused on a few of the board’s favorite charities, which were mostly local grassroots organizations with annual budgets of less than $50,000 addressing homelessness and hunger. The foundation provided annual grants to these organizations and rarely considered requests for funding from other nonprofits. A decade after launching the foundation, the founder decided to sell her company and retire. She planned to put some of the proceeds into the foundation, raising the assets from approximately $2 million to $20 million in the fourth quarter of the year. As a result, the annual minimum distribution requirement (MDR) increased proportionally from $100,000 to $1 million with the higher MDR due by the end of the following calendar year.

The board was excited to have significantly more funds available to address the needs of their community, but anticipation of an increased distribution led to some challenging questions:

  • With a little over a year to plan for an increased MDR, how does the board begin to identify where the funds will be directed?
  • Should we increase giving to its existing grantees?
  • How do we expand our relatively limited focus and networks?
  • Should we consider other grantmaking approaches when our assets increase?
  • Will the foundation maintain its philanthropic priorities or expand to other program or geographic areas, and if so, how would this be accomplished?
  • What if board members do not agree on where to expand?


ASSETS: $2M growing to $20M
GRANT VOLUME:~ 10 grants/year; Local grant focus targeting one program area
GENERATIONS ON BOARD: Founding and Second (G2) Generation

*At the time of the project.