Thank you for the work that you do in support of so many important philanthropic goals and organizational missions.

Your investments are making a difference, and helping nonprofit organizations sustain the important work that they do.

Similar to the way that the financial resources you grant to your nonprofit partners help support and sustain their work, the work of each organization’s board can provide the leadership, strategy, and oversight needed to build the organization’s impact and resilience.

Current research indicates the following:

  • Strong boards create more sustainable organizations.

According to the TCC Group’s work on “The Sustainability Formula,” the most critical elements of nonprofit sustainability are adaptive and leadership capacity. A deeper analysis of the data by TCC and BoardSource has further indicated that board effectiveness in strategic planning and board/staff partnership can be statistically linked to stronger organizational capacity in both of those areas.

  • The partnership between boards and CEOs is critical.

According to Daring to Lead, executives who are unhappy with their boards are more than twice as likely to be planning near-term departures as those who have positive perceptions of their boards.

  • Boards have a direct Impact on organizational effectiveness – good or bad.

BoardSource’s most recent Leading with Intent study found that only 5 percent of CEOs said their boards had “no impact” on the overall effectiveness of organizational performance, but that impact is not necessarily positive. Only 44 percent reported “very positive” impact and 4 percent reported negative impact.

There’s no question that boards play a pivotal role in organizational leadership.

Strong boards can make an organization more effective and resilient; weak boards can do the opposite. That’s why more and more grantmakers are acknowledging the critical leadership role that boards play.

Here at BoardSource, we celebrate and support the critical role that foundations can play in strengthening board leadership in the following ways:

  • Foundations can work to build the effectiveness of grantees’ boards by providing them with programs and resources to reflect on and strengthen their leadership.
  • Foundations can model the importance of thoughtful and strategic board leadership through their own board’s leadership and governance practices.
  • Foundations can support BoardSource’s research, leadership agenda, and evidence-based resources and guidance by investing in BoardSource’s core programs and leadership initiatives.

The resources listed below were curated with our foundation partners in mind. If you’re interested in talking with us about your foundation’s specific needs and goals, please reach out to us at

Resources for Foundations

Foundation, School, Association, and Credit Union BSA

Although the principles of good governance are similar in many ways to those for public charities, there are significant differences for many organizations. BoardSource adapted its core board self-assessment tool to meet the needs of foundations, schools, associations and credit unions.

Foundation Board Basics

101| Community resource. A grantmaking foundation is a charitable tax-exempt organization whose primary function is to distribute funds for charitable purposes. A foundation needs a governing board (or a board of trustees as foundation board members often are called) because it is structured as a tax-exempt organization. In principle, the role of the foundation board does not differ from that of other nonprofit boards, but foundation boards have specific challenges.


BoardSource offers grantmakers the opportunity to boost nonprofit success by supporting strong and effective nonprofit boards. Foundation members are afforded special access to BoardSource resources for their employees, trustees, and grantees.