Edge Philanthropy, LLC is an applied research and consulting firm that exists to enhance philanthropic practice and accelerate impact. We have extensive expertise in family philanthropy, governance/management, regulatory compliance, financial management, investment oversight, and grant making strategies. We have a large library of data on philanthropic practices from over 100 foundations to draw upon in guiding our clients.

enhancing philanthropic practice

While Edge has worked with many philanthropic organizations, we specialize in family philanthropy and have deep expertise in helping families establish and/or enhance their foundations. The prospect of families gathering and collaborating to enhance the world they live in is an incredibly wonderful thing. Family foundations are unusually relational and respectful in how they connect with the communities and nonprofits they serve.


Edge Philanthropy provides consultation/advisory services specifically tailored to each foundation we serve. While we have access to extensive foundation research, we do not utilize off-the-shelf, one size fits all solutions. Instead, we tailor our approaches to each foundation’s unique circumstances. Private foundations enjoy great autonomy, flexibility and are uniquely independent enterprises. Our services are designed to honor such unique circumstances while drawing upon a deep base of knowledge and experience from throughout the field of philanthropy.


We provide an extensive array of consultation services specifically tailored for, and prioritized by, each of the philanthropic organizations we serve. These are some of the services we offer:

Enhancing Effective Governance
Governance involves many important functions, but is generally where a foundation provides strategic direction, allocates and monitors use/investment of resources, employs staff, adopts essential policies to guide foundation activities (including how grants are approved), reviews and monitors progress achieved, and assures regulatory compliance. We help foundations in developing approaches to governance while honoring their mission, vision, and values.
Operational Efficiency & Effectiveness
Many foundations seek outside assistance in assessing efficiency and effectiveness of internal processes, as well as in measuring outcomes from grant making activities. We offer services focused on assessment and continuous improvement processes. Edge has also conducted comprehensive project evaluations.
Strategic Planning
There are many fancy and unnecessarily complex approaches to strategic planning, which can result in extensive documents left to decorate bookshelves for lack of practicality, simplicity, and/or ownership. Strategic planning does not need to be a complex, mysterious process. It is merely about clarifying objectives, understanding an organization’s unique circumstances, developing strategies likely to achieve desired aims, determining resources needed, establishing measurable benchmarks, and knowing what success looks like as well as how it can be measured.
Grant Processes & Strategy
Grant making is the most satisfying of all foundation activities. However, if grant strategies are not sufficiently planned, executed, monitored, and evaluated, foundations will be left guessing as to what was achieved from their financial commitments. We help with developing strategy and in assessing outcomes. Foundations also need procedures to guide grant applications, analysis of proposals, grant decision making, and administration of approved grants. We have worked with many foundations in establishing such procedures. Areas of grant making in which we have particularly deep expertise include Pre-K through 12 education reform, community and economic development, social services, empowerment of women and girls, mental health, substance abuse, healthcare, arts & culture, higher education initiatives, scholarship and college counseling, rural strategies, and global development.
We are well versed in various grant making tools including challenge and matching grants, program related investments, operating and capital grants, place-based philanthropy, participatory grant making, and funder-to-funder collaboration.
Regulatory Compliance
Private foundations operate in a unique regulatory environment. They are subject to restrictions and punitive consequences not experienced by other nonprofit organizations. Regulatory compliance is not merely a logical exercise or the product of common sense. To the contrary, foundations must fully understand the regulations to which they are subject. We have deep knowledge of applicable rules and regulations. Further, we have access to nationally recognized legal and accounting experts.
Internal/External Communication Strategy
Communication strategies for foundations can be nuanced by many issues. Foundations should carefully consider what they want to communicate and how to best message intended audiences. This can include website content, press releases, external reporting or something as fundamental as grant application forms and award letters/contracts. We have extensively researched external communication practices among foundations and have assisted in developing and executing communications strategies.
Family Engagement
Assuring continuous, progressive, and effective family engagement in foundations does not necessarily happen automatically. It requires thoughtful planning and carefully implemented strategies. This is especially true when a founder hands the mantle of control over to a new generation and in engaging subsequent generations. Research finds that the biggest drop off in family involvement occurs following the third generation. However, the conditions contributing to this unfortunate outcome are often unknowingly set in place in prior generations. We have extensive research on this matter and are ready to assist in efforts at engaging multiple generations of family.
Leadership Strategies
Leadership and management are not necessarily the same things. Though understanding how to enhance leadership within an organization is essential to optimizing foundation operations. Since most of what a foundation seeks to achieve is actually realized through the work of the nonprofits they support, learning how to lead beyond the bounds of a foundation, in vicarious ways, is instrumental to good grant making. Helping grantees enhance and/or expand their impact can be difficult for a foundation. Foundations have great power in their relations with grantees given that they are resource providers. Given their disproportionate, resource-based power, foundations need to exercise great care in how they exert influence with grantees. This requires the capacity for humble leadership, often involving the practice of “leading from behind” and in ways not experienced as overbearing by grantees. We have extensive experience in organizational leadership and in how to effectively facilitate leadership across organizational boundaries with grantee partners.
Strategic Relationships
Even large corporations with sophisticated leadership and substantial resources find strategic relationships complex and difficult to plan/realize. Yet, strategic relationships can significantly enhance grant outcomes. We have extensively researched interorganizational collaboration including foundations partnering with other foundations, communities, and grantee organizations..
Endowment Investment Policy & Oversight
All endowments need a reasonably comprehensive investment policy statement to both direct, and provide oversight for, investment related activities. We have helped foundations in developing investment policy statements and establishing procedures for overseeing endowments/investment activities.
Financial Analysis and Reporting
Financial analysis and reporting is best performed in ways that are clear and coherent. Developing focused and effective processes and formats for financial analyses/reporting can empower a foundation board and support its critical decision making. We can help develop reporting needed to provide effective oversight of investment, financial, and grant making activities.
Internal Accounting & Processes:
Every foundation requires essential accounting policies and procedures for effective governance and management. We can assist in developing and/or auditing accounting-related procedures.

Your Journey Starts Here

“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” – Yogi Berra


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