Career Field: Foundations

Foundation Overview

A foundation is a non-governmental, nonprofit organization with its own funds, usually from a single source such as an individual, family, or corporation. A foundation is managed by its own trustees and directors, who maintain/aid educational, social, charitable, religious, or other activities serving the common good, primarily by making grants to other nonprofit organizations. 

Types of Foundations

  • Private non-operating: Grant-making enterprises funded by a single source that disburse funds to other charities and programs external to the organization.
  • Private operating: Use the bulk of their single-sourced income to operate their own facilities or institutions devoted to specific charitable activities
  • Corporate: Type of private non-operating foundations that use “flow through” funds from their founding for-profit corporation.
  • Community:  Public charities supported by the pooled contributions of a large number of donors
  • Support: Named funds within a larger public charity or institution

Sample Career Paths

Program Associate/Assistant/ Coordinator: Responsible for helping the program director coordinate all aspects of an organization’s services and programs, from coordinating annual conferences to orchestrating weekend charity events. Provides opportunities to work with all the other functions of an organization as well as interact with the community that the organization serves.

Program Officer: Responsible for assisting the executive director in the daily operations of the foundation. Duties may include developing budgets, hiring staff, managing finances, and a variety of other administrative tasks. Screens proposals and manages the giving activities of private or corporate foundations. Experience in the field in which the foundation specializes (e.g., education, the arts) is essential.

Program Director: Oversees all daily and programming functions of a foundation, including budgeting, overseeing staff and presenting new proposals to the board. Programming experience or similar experience related to the nature of an organization is usually required.