Statement of Principles: (Adopted by the Board of Trustees, January 20, 2005)
Foundations are vital institutions in our country. The charitable organizations and activities they support play major roles in building a strong and healthy society. Foundations hold a unique public trust that includes legal obligations and fidelity to the purposes for which they were founded.
We recognize that this position of public trust grants us many privileges and comes with significant obligations and responsibilities. Among those obligations is adherence to the highest levels of integrity.
As members of the Southeastern Council of Foundations, we commit ourselves to these principles:
We will strive to serve the public good.
Foundations exist to serve charitable purposes that the public has determined to be valuable and important. Active consideration and pursuit of the public good should guide every aspect of foundations’ grantmaking and institutional life.
We will comply with all laws and regulations.
Foundation trustees and staff should have a clear knowledge and understanding of all laws and regulations that govern their work and comply with both their letter and spirit.
We will be faithful to the intent of our donors and founding mandates.
Foundations are created with monies placed in trust to accomplish specific charitable purposes as set forth in founding documents. Trustees and staff should maintain a clear understanding of their founders’ and donors’ vision and mission and be guided by this intent. When presented with changing historical contexts unforeseen by founders or donors, trustees should make every effort to bridge the gap with fresh but faithful interpretations of the original mandate.
We will exercise prudent stewardship of resources.
Foundation trustees and staff must meet the highest level of fiduciary responsibility. They should regularly discuss the legal and ethical issues that affect their work and institute policies and practices that assure the avoidance of conflicts of interest, self-dealing and excessive compensation.
We will conduct our work with transparency and openness.
Public trust requires public accountability. Foundations should voluntarily make available information about their activities and way of working. Trustees and staff should create an environment that encourages open and honest, two-way communication with grant seekers, grant recipients, and the community at large.
We will treat others with respect, fairness and humility.
Foundation trustees and staff should demonstrate high regard for the communities, institutions, and individuals they engage in the course of their work. This includes being respectful of the experience, resources, insights and opinions of others; communicating promptly; handling confidential information appropriately; making informed decisions using clear, consistent guidelines; and embodying humility born of the knowledge that foundations are effective only to the extent that they work in partnership with others.