Health check for foundations
The Swiss foundation landscape is highly heterogenous. It runs the gamut from large, professionally organised foundations with extensive structures and processes, managed by full-time employees, to very small, highly streamlined operations run by voluntary trustees. For the second category in particular, the following questions might help strengthen the foundation’s structures moving forward.
Organisation of the boards of trustees
- Are there any regulations in place (rules of organisation, fee regulations, etc.)? When were these last revised?
- Is the necessary expertise in place to fulfil the foundation’s purpose?
- Is there a strategy for the foundation, and how old is it?
- Is the process in keeping with decisions on grants?
- Are there internal processes governing the responsibilities of trustees and third parties (such as banks)? Is adequate attention paid to the internal control system (ICS) and to minimising liability risks?
- Do you have an investment strategy or investment regulations in place, and are these up to date?
- Do you carry out liquidity planning? To what extent are cash flows considered in the investment strategy?
- Are the investments in keeping with the aims of the foundation and consequently fit for purpose?
- How high are the annual administration costs (accounting, auditing, supervision, staff), and is this commensurate with the size of the foundation’s assets?
- What are the investment costs? Are there hidden costs (e.g. forex or brokerage fees)?