Can our family foundation use foundation funds to produce a biography of our founder?

Yes. Founder biographies are often written to inspire other donors to get involved in a community or cause, philanthropically or otherwise.

The biography should be seen as an opportunity to educate the public about the founder’s philanthropy, focusing on the individual’s service to a community or cause. Its focus can extend beyond foundation activities—for example, describing the founder’s community actions leading to creation of the foundation.

The biography should not, however, be seen as an opportunity for board members to use foundation expenses to write a book solely about their family or the founder, but rather his/her philanthropic interests.

On a legal note, the foundation should own the work product and make it publicly available, not just make it available to the family or the founder’s businesses. Additionally, it is wise for the foundation to provide only limited copies to the foundation’s disqualified persons.

Still have questions?

Members can access staff experts through our Q&A service by calling 202-580-6560, or post a question to the member community to hear form peers in the field.

Explore our Q&A archive