Private Foundations

Private foundations, helping the people, institutions and communities they care about.

The rapidly changing landscape includes movement away from what used to distinguish foundations from other employers in the marketplace: highly competitive benefits programs. This changing executive and employee proposition has left many foundations looking for counsel on the ‘what next.’

Our clients look to us to advise them on the issues most critical to foundations today:

  • Ensuring reasonableness of executive total compensation – we evaluate the total economic benefit delivered to executives to ensure our clients are considering all of the same elements that would be examined in an IRS audit. Avoidance of private inurement and excess benefit transactions are just a few of the issues at hand.
  • Ensuring competitiveness of executive total compensation – we assess the value of the compensation, benefits and perquisites our clients provide to executives to ensure they are offering a competitive package that allows executives to focus on what matters most: mission and program delivery.
  • Ensuring true pay for performance for investment staff – we help you navigate the complex and often unfamiliar world of compensating investment professionals in a not-for-profit environment. We assist boards, management and HR in balancing the desire to pay competitive compensation with the cultural realties of a unique group of employees who are compensated through both fixed and variable pay.
  • Ensuring competitiveness of employee compensation and benefits: we evaluate cash compensation and benefits programs for employees and ensure our clients are aware of the total rewards practices with which they compete for talent, whether local, regional or national. We also design employee compensation programs, such as market-based salary structures, that ensure you are able to attract, motivate and retain qualified talent as a not-for-profit organization, while competing with for-profit companies for this same talent.

What is the Foundation HR Alliance?

The Foundation HR Alliance is a forum for private foundations to connect and have ongoing dialogue around human resources issues of great importance.

SullivanCotter created the Alliance in response to our clients’ desire to network and share expertise with one another on key people matters.


  • Compensation and benefits benchmarking
  • Surveys on HR practices, including board and executive compensation, employee pay and total rewards programs
  • Facilitation of research and guidance on evolving topics
  • Ongoing support to boards and management
  • Annual HR Summit


Mark your calendars for the 2018 Foundation HR Alliance Summit, where human resources leaders from private foundations across the country come together to network, learn and share best practices.

Presented by SullivanCotter and hosted this year by the James Irvine Foundation, this Summit is designed to facilitate networking between peer foundation HR leaders while providing access to experts in the field.

Registration for this event will open in January 2018.


Please contact Nanci Hibschman