The Council on Foundations has eliminated nineteen positions in the last two months as part of a "redesign" that its president says will enable the organization to better serve its members, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.
In an e-mail to council members, CoF president and CEO Vikki Spruill said "several positions" had been eliminated, including that of chief operating officer, and described a new model for the organization that will see it "operate as the hub of the largest, most connected philanthropic network in the world — one that is designed to foster more meaningful, intentional partnerships between our staff and each of you as we link you to others who share your specific priorities." Spruill told the Chronicle that the changes were not driven by a decision to cut services or programs but by a desire to better anticipate members' needs, and that the organization planned to create up to a dozen positions in 2013 that fit the new approach. "It's a different business model, and we need different skills and competencies to support a new business model," said Spruill, who joined the organization in July.
At the moment, the organization employs 47 people, compared to 65 a year-and-a-half ago and a 105 just before the recession hit, the Chronicle reports. While CoF membership has fallen from 2,000 in 2007 to about 1,700, Spruill said the changes were not a response to financial problems. The council, which ran a $3.5 million operating deficit in 2011, anticipates a much smaller operating loss of about $750,000 in 2012 and is budgeting for a loss of $396,000 next year.
Terry Mazany, president of the Chicago Community Trust and a CoF board member, told the Chronicle that the changes were designed to help the council stay relevant at a time when "more is being asked of philanthropy than ever before." Remaining a "traditional trade association where the value is coming together to basically celebrate the sector" would have put CoF on a path to obsolescence, Mazany added.