The Arthur M Blank Family Foundation

The Open Impact team has been a key partner as the foundation developed new areas of giving that will shape our work for decades to come. They were with us at crucial junctures, supporting new governance norms, advising on organizational design and then supporting a powerful learning journey process for us to deepen our understanding of the issues we are focused on.

Fay Twersky, President

About the client

Located in Atlanta, GA, the Arthur M Blank Family Foundation (AMBFF) was founded by Arthur Blank, a signatory of The Giving Pledge, co-founder of Home Depot, owner of the Atlanta Falcons, and author of the book Good Company. Fay Twersky was appointed as its President in February 2021 to lead a scale-up of its grantmaking and impact.

Goals

The donor sought to significantly accelerate AMBFF’s grantmaking and engage the next generation in defining what its impact would look like. Once this initial planning work was complete, the Foundation’s new President set out to engage the family and other Board members in a process of deeper learning to inform strategy setting for each new/refreshed focus area.

Process

Open Impact’s team facilitated five in-depth conversations with the family to define the Foundation’s next decade of impact, including engaging them in deeper conversations about what had been learned from their prior grantmaking and providing targeted research on emerging areas of collective interest.

Following these conversations, Open Impact then partnered with the Foundation’s new President to co-design an approach to learning for the Foundation’s updated areas of focus, which would also help set the parameters for its strategy and approach. This included working with the family to understand how they best wanted to learn. Once these parameters were established, the team co-designed a learning journey for the Board and key staff that began with research to:

  • Review past grant portfolios and lessons learned
  • Frame and contextualize the issues
  • Identify evidence-based solutions
  • Explore critical roles that philanthropy could play
  • Source a diverse array of experts and people directly impacted by the problem who could illuminate the issues
  • Tee up potential organizations and ideas to fund

This was followed by Board Learning Sessions where guest experts provided brief presentations followed by open conversation.

Outcomes

The work resulted in:

  • Documentation of the family’s decisions, including their aspirations, approach, a target grantmaking budget, and refreshed areas of focus for the next 10 years.
  • A synthesis of the key insights from the learning sessions to help the Foundation further focus its strategy and approaches for each focus area.
  • Robust learning that led to Board and staff alignment around best approaches for how to leverage philanthropy in service of the issues.
  • Deeper family and staff engagement, alignment, and trust.

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