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Build Your Structure

Plan Your Giving Structure

Plan Your Giving Structure

The first step to building an effective corporate philanthropic foundation is to decide your foundation’s structure. You can either use your own resources or outsource your planning.

Set up your own Foundation

Set up your own Foundation

We recommend that you speak with your company’s legal counsel to get recommendations on attorneys who specialize in doing this in your country. We found the up-front cost of setting up a foundation is about $20,000 USD in legal fees and about 100 person hours to get the original documentation filed through the IRS.

Create a Donor Advised Fund

Create a Donor Advised Fund

Some companies explore the creation of a donor advised fund through an equity pledge. Donor advised funds are administered by a public charity and can manage donations on behalf of organizations, families, or individuals. Fees for these funds vary based on the organization you work with and their associated services. Determining if a donor advised fund is right for you depends on how much monies you want to have in your foundation, how much you plan to spend down annually and the resources you have available to set up and maintain the foundation.

Find a Partner for your Foundation Planning

Find a Partner for your Foundation Planning

There are many good organizations that can help you get started.

Pledge 1% is a consortium of companies who are leveraging their future success to drive social change. Pledge 1% can help you execute your 1% equity pledge as well as connect you to local resources in your region to help you maximize the social impact your company has on the communities in which you operate.

The Foundation Source is the nation’s leading provider of support services for private foundations. Nearly 900 foundations rely upon Foundation Source for their back office, technology and philanthropic advisory needs.

Set up Your Board

Set up Your Board

Regardless of whether you setup your own foundation or choose to outsource that task, you’ll need a Board of Directors or other governing body that oversees your efforts and guides the growth, sustainability and impact during its existence.

The board will need to do the following:


  • Make sure the organization follows federal and state requirements

  • Uphold the bylaws and policies of the foundation

  • Oversee grant approvals beyond staff discretionary level

  • Supervise the staff


To be successful, your foundation will need the engagement and full support of both your board and your executive team. If your company is funded by venture capital, you’ll also need the buy-in of the venture capital firm and other board members.

The following sample documents are available to help build that alignment. Work with your legal team to make sure the documents comply with your company policies and then modify them to make them your own: