Asset servicing firms bring added value to foundations

Foundations can be a tricky subject for those accustomed to discussing fund management and income generation. On the one hand, just like other players in the investment and securities industry, foundations are expected to be able to raise its funds to support its causes. However, its charitable nature also places limits on the kind of growth its finances should have.

As a matter of principle, foundations need to be regularly spending most of its money on the advocacies it is claiming to push. Such is its pitch to donors when it conducts its fund-raising, after all: We are passionate about the need for educating girls in Africa, for example, and we have acquired knowledge in the hows of disbursing funds towards the achievement of this goal.

At the same time, foundations need to be financially stable, and its operations, sustainable. It cannot invest money on other ventures even with the laudable goal of raising funds, and put its finances at risk. It cannot be accepting money from anyone without conducting thorough background checks on would-be donors so that it does not become a vehicle for money laundering or tax evation schemes, or have funds that represent a conflict of interest.

It also cannot be holding one-time, big-time activities and release its funds in one go. Instead, its goals need to be laid out strategically, with concrete plans of action for each spread throughout the year. It needs to allocate budget for an operation that constitutes the maintenance of an office, and administrative staff and executive officers that need to be paid by the month. All of these are ongoing overhead costs that serve as the backbone of the philanthropic operations, but which cannot be relayed to the donors as the advocacy activities.

To navigate this delicate balance between philanthropy and financial stability, private foundations can find assistance from asset servicing firms that have been growing in number in the industry.

These outsourcing partners possess a technology infrastructure designed specifically for the rigorous tasks that constitute the middle and back office operations of firms that manage funds, including foundations. They have the latest platforms that allow for multi-stakeholder fund monitoring, efficient accounting and tax reporting, and smooth compliance management. Furthermore, they have a pool of talent accustomed to handling such tedious day-to-day transactions as data warehousing, bank account reconciliation, and risk management.

With their help, foundations can be exemplary at both fund management and their advocacy.