Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join FFOG
FFOGHorn News: December 2017


 In this December 2017 Issue, No. 223



Have you booked your hotel room yet? The FFOG Spring 2018 Meeting hotel is the Grand Hotel et de Milan. Click here to view the hotel website.

Please use the hotel booking form found here and make sure to book early as the hotel is a small property. You can view the room descriptions for booking here. The hotel room block will be closed 30 days prior to the meeting with limited availability as we move closer to that date.

Please be aware, the hotel has a very stringent cancellation policy. The hotel cancellation policy is 44 days out at 100% of each room night cancelled, 60-45 days out is 50%. This is also noted on the booking form found above.

Please note, there are several airports and railway stations serving the Milan metropolitan area. The closest airport is Linate (LIN), 7 km/20 minutes from the Grand Hotel et de Milan.

For additional travel information from Turismo Milano, please see

Click here to view a brief video showing Milan and the hotel!

Return to Top

FFOG BUYERS' GUIDE: Add your HR vendors!

The FFOG Buyers’ Guide puts the answer to “Who/what do you use for _____?” at your fingertips. The information contained in the Buyers’ Guide is available to all members; you don’t have to participate to use it. Of course, as with all FFOG surveys, the more participation we have, the more useful the resource will be.

Over the next few months, we'll be asking you to add records for your vendors and contacts in particular categories. This month, please add your HR-related vendors, including software. There are two easy ways to add records to the Buyers' Guide:

Add records online: Go to In the Vendor(s) tab, filter the list by typing all or part of a vendor name into the text box. If the vendor already exists, add your contact by clicking "Add" in the far right column of the Vendor List. If no record exists of the vendor organization, add vendors with contacts one at a time by clicking the red "Add New Vendor" button.

Send your list to FFOG: Download the Excel template workbook here: Complete the Vendor_Contacts tab of the workbook and send it to for upload.

A User Manual is available to guide you through key features. If you have any questions or feedback, please contact the FFOG Office at or 856-423-3156.

Return to Top


A Conversation with Yale CIO David Swensen

David Swensen, Chief Investment Officer of the Yale Endowment, recently sat for an interview with former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, followed by Q&A with the audience, at the Council on Foreign Relations' Stephen C. Freidheim Symposium on Global Economics.

Bloomberg reports that Swensen warned of another market crisis, calling the lack of market volatility in the current geopolitical environment "profoundly troubling." Swensen predicted lower returns in the future and shared the strategic positions he has taken in the Endowment's portfolio: "One of the most important metrics that we look at is the percentage of the portfolio that’s in what we call uncorrelated assets, and that’s a combination of absolute return, cash and short-term bonds. Those are the assets that would protect the endowment in the event of a market crisis."

A video and transcript of the interview are available here:

Could Your Personality Derail Your Career?

When considering what it takes to succeed at work, we often focus on innate strengths: high intelligence, the ability to learn, the ambition to achieve, and the social skills to develop strong relationships. But these characteristics always coexist with weaknesses—aspects of personality that might seem innocuous or even advantageous in some circumstances but that when left unchecked can wreak havoc on careers and organizations. The following link will take you to an article discussing this interesting dynamic….

Return to Top

ONE-DAY SURVEY: Occupancy & Real Estate

Here are the results of this month’s survey:


Approximately 59% of respondents indicated that they rent/lease office space, while 37% indicated that they own. The remaining 4% who responded neither explained that they are currently renting but are in the process of constructing new office space (one respondent), have a family office that pays for or shares office space (two respondents), or occupies donated space (one respondent).

Overall, organizations with high numbers of FTEs are more likely to own than rent, and organizations with fewer numbers of FTEs are more likely to rent than own. Geographically, the most significant reported results were for the West region, where 72% of foundations rent/lease and 28% own. See tables below for breakdowns:


Foundations Who Rent/Lease Office Space

Nearly 84% of respondents (N = 37) indicated that their initial lease term was greater than seven years, with nearly half (40%) indicating their initial lease term was greater than ten years. The majority (57%) of respondents indicated that they have between 5-10 years left on their leases. Rent cost control measures employed by foundations appear to be varied, with the most popular cost control method reported was increasing lease terms (42% of respondents, N = 33) and the least popular methods reported were moving to a shared space with another organization (9%, three respondents) and downgrading to a commercial building in a lower class (6%, two respondents). In addition, 33% of respondents (11) answered “other” and provided explanations. Of these 11 respondents, three indicated that they planned to downsize and/or reduce their footprint and one respondent indicated they opted for a small meeting space and increased telecommuting. One respondent is living the dream and indicated they are able to stay in the same class of building with reduced costs!

When asked why foundations decided to rent rather than buy, they indicated the following:


The same percentage of respondents (53%) indicated future flexibility and not having to deal with maintenance, operations, security, etc. were drivers of their decisions to rent rather than buy. Approximately 19% (seven respondents) indicated “other” and included responses. Four of these respondents stated that they have too small of a footprint/office to make owning/buying office space viable.

Foundations Who Own Office Space

All respondents (N = 22) who own their office space indicated they do not plan to sell their space. The median reported year of acquisition was 1990, with an earliest year reported of 1896 and the latest year reported of 2017.

When asked why foundations decided to buy/own rather than rent, they indicated the following:


The most common response to this question was “other” and additional comments were provided. Reasons varied, but three respondents indicated that their office space was donated, while individual responses ranged from occupying a legacy founder home to being a good investment in the local real estate environment. The second most common response by respondents (42% or eight respondents) indicated their organization values the flexibility that owning provides them to customize or modify their space in the future.

Finally, when asked about renting out excess space to others, nearly two-thirds (65%) responded that they do not engage in this practice. The one “other” response included commentary that the organization does allow use of meeting space to other non-profits free of charge. See chart below:



Overall, foundations appear to value flexibility and are sensitive to individual local market forces that drive options and opportunities for each foundation’s unique needs. Institutions are paying attention to office space efficiency and are consistently evaluating the best option for the institution’s ongoing needs and as fiduciaries of foundation assets.

For the full survey results, please click here. Thanks to those that participated in the survey this month. Please contact Bob Bailey (, Saul Bakst (, Krysten Curtis ( or Tim Otto ( for feedback and/or suggestions for future survey topics.

Return to Top


Collaborate Hot Topics

Tuition Assistance: Nicole Tzetzo of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation asked about tuition reimbursement policies, and eight responses were received. Policies offering reimbursement of $2,000 up to $7,500 were offered for programs that would further the individual’s career, with some requiring that to be within the foundation and others not. Various terms of employment before program eligibility, as well as post-reimbursement, were required.

Staff Eligibility for 403 (B) ParticipationLarry Mangan of the C.W. Benedum Foundation inquired about eligibility requirements for deferral and employer contributions to defined contribution plans. Thirteen responses were received, with a variety of responses. It was noted that further information is also available in the compensation survey with regard to waiting period, vesting, and the prevalence of 403(b) plans vs. other choices.

Return to top

New FFOG Members                 

Regular Members

Bryan Ulishney,
Director of Finance and Administration
The William Penn Foundation

Daniel Lemm,
Chief Financial Officer
Blandin Foundation

Suresh K. Bhat
Chief Financial Officer
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Carey Dobbertin,
Senior Financial Analyst
The Piton Foundation

David Waggett,
Senior Director of Finance and Operations
Poses Family Foundation

Affiliate Members

Naima Wood,  
Global Compensation Manager
Open Society Foundation

Michal James Green,  
Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

Tamara Lewis,  
VP, Talent and Culture

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Return to Top


This month we offer a Crossword puzzle
by Michael Blake entitled Dodd-Frank Plus.

Click here for a PDF.

Return to Top


"Don't tell people how to do things; tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results."

George S. Patton


Return to Top


 Foundation Financial Officers Group (FFOG) • • 856-423-3156

19 Mantua Road  Mt. Royal, New Jersey 08061

  Regular Office Hours - 8:30am to 5:00pm Eastern

The FFOG Office will be closed
Monday, December 25, 2017 through Monday, January 1, 2018.

This is an automated email sent from the Foundation Financial Officers Group (FFOG). If you feel you have received this message in error, please feel free to contact FFOG at or 856-423-3156.

Unsubscribe from all FFOG email here: @@unsubscribe_url@@

Foundation Financial Officers Group • 19 Mantua Road • Mt. Royal, New Jersey 08061

Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal