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Governance systems of grant-making foundations

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This article aims at filling an important gap in governance literature. Most governance studies are board-focused and hardly differentiate between different types of non-profit organisations. Surveys on governance structures of independent grant-making foundations are almost non-existent in the current literature. Due to the heavy focus on boards, the roles of executive directors in governance are somewhat neglected. This article presents the results of a multiple case study research project with 12 grant-making foundations in Germany and Switzerland with chief executives as interview partners. Findings show that the roles of the board and the executive director in governance functions vary. Different patterns of foundation governance are evident. Based on a model developed by Saidel and Harlan (1998), we showcase four governance structures in grant-making foundations and use ideal-typical organisational charts for illustration. The results of this study shed light on the black boxes of foundations and inform practice and research alike.
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Keywords: EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP; GOVERNANCE; GRANT-MAKING FOUNDATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 2014

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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