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What does a Foundation Director do?

By L. Terry
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A foundation director is a nonprofit organization's equivalent of the chief executive officer of a corporation. The foundation director reports to the organization's board of directors and coordinates things such as overall strategy, program development and the hiring of employees and volunteers. The director works closely with members of the board of directors, keeping them informed of developments at the organization and seeking their input and approval for programs and policies.

The duties of a foundation director often involve much more than just working with senior management officers, however, and the foundation director usually takes a hands-on approach to all aspects of running the organization. He or she might personally oversee multiple aspects, or this person might work side-by-side with other managers within the organization. An important part of this is overall strategy, including helping to determine the organization's long-term direction and ensuring that all activities align with the mission statement.

The foundation director is also responsible for financial management and oversight. He or she works with employees, the board of directors and the financial team to create a budget and ensure compliance with all government regulations. Foundation directors also ensure that there are enough funds to maintain organizational activities and programs.

The director oversees all official and legal correspondence, drafting letters and working with lawyers and other key personnel in the organization to write and approve legal documents. Foundation directors also maintain all official records and documents, such as those that apply to fundraising, hiring and taxes. They also ensure that the organization is operating in accordance with all applicable laws.

The duties of a foundation director often extend to human resources as well, and they might include hiring and terminating employees, recruiting volunteers and encouraging cooperation between employees and volunteers. The foundation director also might develop job descriptions, complete performance evaluations and establish succession plans. He or she often will be responsible for creating training and incentive programs for employees to help them grow and to help promote teamwork.

Even if the organization has employees dedicated to functions such as fundraising and publicity, the foundation director might take on those roles as well. The director might help create fundraising and publicity campaigns, coordinate special events and reach out to the business community or local philanthropists to seek donations. He or she also might form alliances or partnerships with other nonprofit groups in order to pool resources or to help raise awareness.

In addition to overseeing everything at his or her own organization, the foundation director must also stay informed of news, trends and developments within the industry. Foundation directors do this by reading industry publications, by attending conferences and networking events and by maintaining ongoing relationships with other foundation directors. The director uses all of this information to implement new programs or make other changes to help the organization operate more efficiently.

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