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GlassPockets Finds – A Historical Look at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
August 7, 2020

PowellNikki
Nikki Powell

Nikki Powell is the Content Development Associate for Candid.

The history of foundations and philanthropic giving in the United States covers a lot of ground. Capturing it all in a format that is approachable, informative, and digestible is a daunting task, but one that the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has achieved with a new website feature. 

In an innovative approach to acknowledging and celebrating its history and evolution as a philanthropic organization, the foundation website features an interactive timeline of its history. The timeline starts on June 19, 1926, with the establishment of the foundation. “Endowed with 2,000 shares of General Motors stock, then valued at $320,000, the Foundation has since experienced significant growth, marking $3 billion in giving over our first 90 years. 

“Charles Stewart Mott Foundation took steps to promote greater transparency.”

The vignettes shared throughout the timeline provide a snapshot of some of the foundation’s key grants and place them in the context of the evolution of a leading grantmaking organization. Included is an entry regarding the Tax Reform Act of 1969, which contained major provisions affecting the way private foundations did business in the U.S. Upon passage of the Act, the Charles Stewart Mott foundation revised their articles of incorporation, clarifying future governance of the organization. The foundation took steps to promote greater transparency, such as publishing Facts on Grants and an annual report. It also supported efforts to build a national infrastructure for the philanthropic field, which bolstered its capacity, efficiency, and ability to advocate on behalf of the sector.  

Anniversaries and other milestones often encourage foundations to stop and reflect and consider how to sum up their legacy and history into a neat package. Such moments can lead to the creation of content like this that opens up greater understanding and appreciation for the work of the foundation. Charles Stewart Mott Foundation’s timeline is a good example of how to use such content to increase knowledge of and help articulate the impact of the sector. 

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About Transparency Talk

  • Transparency Talk, the Glasspockets blog, is a platform for candid and constructive conversation about foundation transparency and accountability. In this space, Foundation Center highlights strategies, findings, and best practices on the web and in foundations–illuminating the importance of having "glass pockets."

    The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation Center.

    Questions and comments may be
    directed to:

    Janet Camarena
    Director, Transparency Initiatives
    Foundation Center

    If you are interested in being a
    guest contributor, contact:
    glasspockets@foundationcenter.org

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