How We Operate
Five values guide everything we do as a foundation. They are: Stewardship, Respect, Creativity, Partnership and Opportunity. A full discussion of each can be found in the Who We Are section of this website.
Embedded within these values is a deep and abiding commitment to transparency and accountability. Both are fundamental to our operations, day-to-day and over the long term.
Transparency and Accountability
In 2012, we achieved the Foundation Center’s Glass Pockets designation for online transparency and accountability. Glass Pockets challenges foundations to post on their websites detailed information on their grantmaking, finances and governance.
In this section, you can read our bylaws, code of ethics, conflict of interest policies for trustees and for staff, and our employee whistle blower policy. All staff and trustees are required to submit annual conflict-of-interest statements and affirm adherence to the foundation’s code of ethics.
In addition, you will find below our tax returns – going back to 2012 – as well as audited financial statements and a reader’s guide for each year for the corresponding return.
Posted in the Grants & Social Investments section of this site is a complete, descriptive and searchable list of all grants awarded since 2009 and all social investments made since 2008. We publish this information each year in our annual reports.
Commitment to the Environment
We promote environmental responsibility through our philanthropic activity. These efforts are led by our Environment Program and are a vital factor in our other programs as well.
Our workspaces reflect our dedication to reducing the environmental impact of our own operations. They are designed to promote health and productivity and to showcase our commitment to environmental sustainability. Over the years, our building and grounds have become a model and a teaching tool for others. We work with local developers to promote green design, construction and operations in southeast Michigan. And, upon request, we provide tours for professionals, students and the public.
We also educate our own staff members by providing green office supplies and inviting guest speakers to discuss topics related to environmental responsibility. To keep this commitment top of mind, we display information about the design and construction of the facility, and a dashboard that provides real-time information about the building’s energy use.
Also integral to our five values is our commitment to diversity of staff and trustees. This is evident in the composition of each. Last year, we decided to support an effort by Green 2.0 to establish a standardized database for staff diversity and diversity practices among environmental organizations and funders. Although this is a narrow focus, given that it’s tied to one of our six programs, we believe it is imperative we participate to lead by example in the environmental space as well as in the philanthropic sector at large.
The Green 2.0 database is managed through GuideStar, an organization that tracks statistics for the nonprofit sector.
We post our audited financial statements and tax returns, IRS Form 990-PF, as they become available. A 990-PF is the IRS form used by all private foundations.
Ordinarily, financial statements are available in mid-June and our 990-PF in mid-November.
Our primary investment objective is to preserve and grow our endowment by at least 5.5 percent over the long term. We accomplish this by making strategic investments that generate returns in excess of our annual grants, social investments, administrative spending and inflation. Over the past five years, we have earned 8.7 percent annually. Despite the tumultuous global market, we earned 3.4 percent in 2015.
Financial Controls and Accountability
The firm Deloitte & Touche LLP is our independent auditor. The full set of audited financial statements for the year ended Dec. 31, 2015, the most recent available, is one of the records available above.
The Board of Trustees Audit Committee reviews the results of the independent auditor’s examinations and recommends them to the full Board of Trustees for approval. The Audit Committee reviews the annual operating plan and interim financial reports.