December 18, 2012

Council on Foundations Reorganizes to Better Serve Members

Nineteen jobs eliminated as organization moves toward less traditional structure

The Council on Foundations, which represents many large U.S. grant makers, is in the midst of a “redesign” intended to better meet the needs of its member foundations, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported Monday.

The council is adopting a new business model and will also become less hierarchical, Vikki Spruill, the organization’s new president, told The Chronicle. Nineteen positions have been eliminated during the past two months, the report said, but a dozen new ones will be created next year to fit the new approach.

The changes will not result in cutting services or programs, Spruill said. They are motivated by a need to work differently.

Spruill told members in an email message that the new model would “operate as the hub of the largest, most connected philanthropic network in the world–one that is designed to foster more meaningful intentional partnerships between our staff and each of you as we link you to others who share your specific priorities,” according to the article.

The Chronicle noted that the council had been having trouble attracting and retaining new members, with its membership down to about 1,700 from 2,000 in 2007.

The report said the council had a $3.5 million operating deficit last year. Forty-seven people now staff the council, it said, compared with 65 in early 2011 and 105 before the recession.

Spruill denied that financial problems were driving the reorganization. She told The Chronicle that the council is “on very strong financial footing,” with a smaller operating loss of some $750,000 expected this year, and only about half that much budgeted for 2013.

Foundation members interviewed by The Chronicle endorsed Spruill’s changes, with one calling them “overdue.” Another said the new model would enable the council to work more closely with other grant-making associations.

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