Family foundations benefit from diverse boards

From filling knowledge and expertise gaps and reshaping board dyanmics, Ruth Cummings and Sharon Alpert of Nathan Cummings Foundation write about the advantages of bringing non-family members into its board.

Written by: Kristina ("Yna") C. Moore

Date: October 23, 2018

For many family foundations, bringing in non-family members into the board may seem unnecessary. But for Nathan Cummings Foundation, it has proven to be to be essential ingredient in the foundation’s effectiveness and continuing impact on issues and communities it cares about.

In “Diversifying Perspectives and Sharing Power at a Family Foundation,” Ruth Cummings, who has been a trustee since the foundation began in 1988, and Sharon Alpert, its chief executive, share how non-family members on the board and advisors have been instrumental in navigating family dynamics, risk-taking and bolder action towards the foundation’s mission.

“Having voices from outside the family as independent trustees and advisors has proven a vital step toward sharing power, bringing us closer to the issues and communities we care about, and pushing us to have the most positive impact possible.”

– Ruth Cummings, Board Chair
and Sharon Alpert, President and CEO
Nathan Cummings Foundation
Diversifying Perspectives and Sharing Power at a Family Foundation

Diversifying Perspectives and Sharing Power at a Family Foundation” is part of the new Power in Philanthropy series on the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) blog in collaboration with NCRP. Contributors from NCRP and nonprofit and philanthropic leaders explore popular concepts in philanthropy – such as risk, capacity building and public leadership – through the lens of power and equitable outcomes.

Power in Philanthropy is based on NCRP’s “Power Moves: Your essential philanthropy assessment guide for equity and justice.”

Related articles:

Power, Privilege, and Effectiveness: Are Funders Connecting the Dots?
by Kathleen Enright, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

The Power of Families: From Poverty to Agency to Unity
by Luz Vega-Marquis, Marguerite Casey Foundation

Philanthropy’s Ultimate Power-Sharing Opportunity: Governance
by Jim Canales and Barbara Hostetter, Barr Foundation

Philanthropic Leadership Means Following the Frontlines
by Alison Corwin, Surdna Foundation

Wielding Philanthropic Leadership With, Not For
by Grant Oliphant, The Heinz Endowments

Don’t miss forthcoming posts by Judy Belk of The California Wellness Foundation, Linda Campbell of Building Movement Project and NCRP’s own Lisa Ranghelli.

Visit Power in Philanthropy on SSIR 

Or stay tuned on NCRP’s blog for links
to the latest articles in the series.

Yna C. Moore is senior director of communications of NCRP. Follow @ynamoore and @ncrp on Twitter. Join the conversation on #PowerMovesEquity.