WHAT WE DO
Philanthropy Advisory Group offers customized philanthropic services for private and family foundations, donor advised fund holders, and individual funders. We design our services to provide philanthropists with the support they need to engage in meaningful, innovative grantmaking.
We customize our services to support our clients—none of our services are pre-packaged. We listen closely to our clients to gain a strong understanding of their needs and philanthropic ambitions, and then we recommend services based on their goals, priorities, and budget.
Some funders retain us for one-time projects such as a “boot camp” training on how to set up and run a foundation; or to conduct family interviews to generate a succession plan; or to help assess staffing needs and find appropriate philanthropic staff. Other clients hire us to serve as long-term advisors. Some funders hire us to manage their whole strategic grants portfolio; others hire us to do in-depth studies and make recommendations on single grants. Finally, certain clients hire us during a transition to assess and recommend a new course of action.
Our menu of services describes those services for new funders, experienced funders and funders in transition. For examples of how we have served individual clients in the past, browse our case studies and testimonials.
Our expertise in philanthropy covers the full range of services that funders need:
Grantmaking operations, management, and administration;
Foundation governance, operations, and compliance;
Reconstituting policies and procedures to improve board dynamics;
Developing long-term philanthropic strategies;
Advising families on succession planning;
Training families and foundation professionals who are new to the field;
Working and negotiating with grantees ranging from top tier universities and medical instructions to innovative start-up organizations.
How We Work
We typically use a three-stage approach to begin our customized work with individual clients:
Interview key stakeholders about their philanthropic experiences and goals.
Review important legal and policy documents.
Learn from other funders and experts participating in the funder’s program areas to ascertain areas for strategic engagement.
Conduct Needs Assessment (“Listen”)
Compile the information gathered for the funder.
Look for areas of agreement for moving forward as well as areas of general disagreement that deserve to be left behind or addressed in order to move forward.
Recommend options for how to move forward and collect feedback on how those options might be further customized and adopted.
Recommend Plan of Action (“Reflect and Suggest”)
Recommend updates and revisions to bylaws and policies to effectuate an adopted plan.
Generate policies as necessary to develop a philanthropic culture and agreed upon set of rules for all stakeholders.
Generate operation plans, inclusive of grantmaking calendars, to bring order and routine to the grantmaking experience.
We strive to help our clients achieve the societal impact and personal satisfaction that stems from effective philanthropy. We do this work mindful of the great privilege that we have to collaborate with funders who spend their time and resources advancing causes and helping people in need.
Unlike other advisors, we emphasize the importance of establishing strong, practical decision-making and operational processes. It is this practical underpinning that helps our clients produce successful grants as well as rewarding philanthropic experiences. We also focus on establishing orderly and transparent communication with grantees about the funder’s goals, so that the funder and grantee can be productive partners in their shared mission.
Personal & Customized ServicesWe never push a one-size-fits-all plan of action on our clients because each client comes to us with unique goals and challenges. We listen to clients about their situation and needs. We encourage clients to ask and answer difficult questions about what they want to accomplish and how they want to operate.
Practical DeliverablesFunders come to us looking for implementable solutions, so rather than offering our clients abstract or pie-in-the-sky advice, we work with them to develop concrete operation plans and checklists, strategies, and plans of action for grantmaking. We help our clients realistically match their resources with goals, and we offer implementable strategies for reaching those goals. Because of our experience working in trusted relationships with clients, we know which plans will be most viable for a given philanthropic or familial goal.
Discretion & ConfidentialityWe recognize that although funders aim to make a public impact, philanthropy is a personal activity that expresses private beliefs and involves resources that many funders prefer to keep private. We have a strong background in legal ethics and confidentiality and are devoted to safeguarding client privacy. We have extensive experience working with clients to protect their philanthropic identities when desired.