[Foundation-l] Mission & Vision statement updated

Alexander Keely alexander858 at gmail.com
Fri Apr 27 21:20:41 UTC 2007

> In the US charity assets are divided into restricted and unrestricted
> funds.  Restricted assets can only be used for the specific purpose
> designated by the donor.  Unrestricted assets are "freely available to
> a charity for its general purposes".  The vast majority of Wikimedia's
> assets were unrestricted, as of (and according to) the last publically
> available financial statements.
> There are still some restrictions on what a foundation can do with
> "unrestricted assets", of course.  As Kelly Martin pointed out, for
> instance, a foundation can only use its funds in a way which is
> consistent with its purpose as designated in its articles of
> incorporation.  A mission statement, therefore, should be functionally
> equivalent to the purpose in the articles of incorporation, or else be
> a subset of it.
> Anthony

Restricted Assets:
Foundation's assets are divided into restricted and unrestricted funds.  As 
I'm sure Anthony would agree, the restricted funds must be used in 
those "restricted" funds as long as those goals are relevant and needed.  
After restricted fund's goals have been accomplished, become irrelevant, or 
some time (20 years for example) pass, the foundation may use those funds as 
it would unrestricted assets--for charitable 501(c)(3) purposes.

Unrestricted Assets:
The mission *must* correspond with the articles of incorporation.  The
foundation may change its mission as it pleases (as stated in the bylaws) as 
long as it continues to follow the same 501(c)(3) status, and does not differ 
from the articles of incorporation (which can easily be changed).  

This is why the articles of incorporation document is usually more general so 
that when the means to an end change slightly, the board can make changes 
without concerning the government.


Alexander Keely
MPA-Nonprofit Management and
MA-Philanthropic Studies Candidate
SPEA,Center on Philanthropy

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