WRAG launches new Foundation Finance Affinity Group

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

By Katy Moore
Director of Corporate Strategy
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Originally published in the Daily WRAG on February 24, 2015

Each year, WRAG offers more than 50 opportunities for members to learn about community issues, from experts, and from each other. These opportunities build community among grantmakers and provide a robust arena for idea exchange, collective problem-solving, and the development of cross-sector solutions.

In 2015, WRAG will launch a new area of programming focused on the specific needs and professional development of foundation finance staff.

“Having a learning community dedicated specifically for foundation finance officers will give us a place to discuss the issues we’re all grappling with and, more importantly, to brainstorm solutions.”
- Janice Thomas, chief financial officer, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

The fiduciary oversight requirements for private foundations are different from those of traditional 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Foundation finance officers must not only understand traditional accounting rules, they must also be familiar with required legal and tax filings (such as the 990-PF), have a working knowledge of endowment management (including staying up-to-date with trends such as mission- and program-related investing), and understand the often complicated calculation of the required 5 percent annual payout.

“Having a network of peers to call on when my Board asks ‘how do other foundations handle this’ will be hugely helpful. I also think this group will foster very valuable mentoring relationships between veteran and new foundation finance officers. When I started in my position 10 years ago, I had a solid background in nonprofit finance but having a mentor to help me understand the many nuances and financial rules specific to foundations was essential.”
- Christine Harris, director of finance and administration, Hill-Snowdon Foundation

WRAG, in partnership with a group of our member CFOs (including Janice and Christine), has developed a strong series of programming to kick off our first year of learning, including:

March 30 – Getting Prepared for Your Annual Financial Audit with guest speakers Tom Raffa and Frank Smith from Raffa, PC

June 18 – Navigating Private Foundation Excise Tax Rules with guest speaker Andrew Schulz, general counsel for Arabella Advisors

October 8 – Best Practices for Calculating the 5% Payout with guest speaker Chris Peterman of O’Conner Davies

If you are a foundation finance staff member who would like to join this new group, please contact Katy Moore at moore@washingtongrantmakers.org.