Letter from Chair & Co-Chair, Public Trust Task Force

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This is part of "Principles for Grantmakers & Practice Options for Philanthropic Organizations."

View the complete table of contents or download the PDF.

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

The field of philanthropy has grown and changed over the past 10 years. And so, a decade after the groundbreaking work of the Minnesota Council on Foundations in creating the Principles for Grantmakers in 1996, the MCF board of directors empanelled a special task force in 2005 to review the principles and the attendant practice options, and to explore whether changes and adjustments were needed to reflect the changing world of philanthropy.

The Public Trust Task Force included five past MCF board chairs, as well as members who had served on the task force that created the original principles, newer members and representatives from family, private, community and corporate foundations. Two MCF staff joined our deliberations over a year and a half.

The task force work culminated in a new set of eight Principles for Grantmakers — not so different from the earlier principles, yet more aspirational (what we want to achieve) than transactional (how something should be achieved). An expanded Preamble to the Principles for Grantmakers reflects the new tone and explains the broad context for the role of philanthropy in contributing to and advocating for the health and well-being of our communities.

The how-to of principled philanthropy, drawing upon the wisdom of the field here and across the country, was compiled in a newly revised set of Practice Options for Philanthropic Organizations. The new options for philanthropic practice consolidate four separate documents, one each for family foundations, private independent foundations, community/public foundations, and corporate foundations and giving programs. The new document is practical and easy to use, designed to help foundations meet all legal requirements and consider other ethical practices. It also includes an Accountability Self-Assessment Tool for Private Foundations, one for staffed and another for unstaffed foundations, developed with the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers and posted online at www.mcf.org.

The Principles for Grantmakers and Practice Options for Philanthropic Organizations are the cornerstone of MCF's commitment to public trust and accountability. We commend this work to you as we all strive toward excellence for the field of philanthropy.

 Dan_johnson_signature_2__small  Sampson_signature_1__small
Daniel S. Johnson
Chair, Public Trust Task Force;
Vice President and Executive Director, United Health Foundation
Holly C. Sampson
Co-Chair, Public Trust Task Force;
President, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation