Organization: The Fidelity Foundations

Location: Salem, NH

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About The Fidelity Foundations:

The Fidelity Foundations are a group of charitable organizations that fund a diverse set of philanthropies on a national and international scale.  Areas of interest include education, arts and culture, health care, science, land conservation and social services.  In addition, the Fidelity Foundations fund nonprofit organizations which strengthen the communities in which Fidelity Investments employees live and work.

Foundation grants are designed to encourage the highest standards of management and to create long-term self-reliance in nonprofit organizations.  Taking an investment approach to grantmaking, the Foundations fund organizations with a goal of adding lasting, measurable value.  The Foundations seek to support major initiatives that nonprofits undertake to reach new levels of achievement.

The Foundations were established with several operating principles in mind. These principles guide its decisions and grantmaking 50 years later:

Strengthening Nonprofit Organizations

The Fidelity Foundations’ grant program was designed to strengthen the long-term effectiveness of nonprofit institutions.  The types of projects the Fidelity Foundations fund, and the way in which they fund them, are specifically intended to help nonprofits build the organizational capabilities they need to better fulfill their missions and serve their constituencies.

Approaching Grants as Investments

The Fidelity Foundations view their philanthropy as an investment — not just of financial resources, but also of their business skills and experience.  In considering each proposal, the Fidelity Foundations apply the fundamentals of investing: they carefully examine each aspect of an organization’s project idea, management team and financial situation before committing resources to ensure a grant can achieve tangible results.

Leveraging Resources

The Fidelity Foundations seek to leverage resources wherever possible.  Often this is accomplished by offering challenge and matching grants that encourage nonprofits to seek and secure other funding partners.  The Fidelity Foundations draw on their own business experience by working with grantees to develop performance measures that help determine whether a grant accomplishes its intended purpose. As the Foundations gain information from funded projects, it informs work on future projects in similar fields.  The Foundations also utilize their contacts to put present grantees in touch with former grantees that have faced similar issues. 

Commitment to Excellence and Innovation

The Fidelity Foundations’ grant program seeks to reflect Fidelity Investments’ commitment to quality and continuous improvement.  The Foundations look for projects representing creative and innovative means of advancing an organization or focus area and strive to remain flexible and opportunistic through a competitive selection process.

Fidelity Investments’ Chairman Emeritus, Edward C. Johnson 3d, and his father, the founder of the company, established the Fidelity Foundation in 1965, launching decades of charitable investing and laying the groundwork for many future philanthropic endeavors.

The grantmaking program is conducted by professional staff under the leadership of the President.  The approach has been through quiet giving, in which publicity is not sought, confidentiality is critical, and most grants are awarded anonymously.

The President will lead the Fidelity Foundations from their offices in Salem, New Hampshire, 40 minutes north of Boston.

The Opportunity:

The opportunity is to effectively lead the Fidelity Foundations going forward.  The President will partner with the founding family to design and implement a plan for the Foundations.  Building on the successes of the past, the next generation of family leadership will look to the President for effective design and execution of the Foundations’ endeavors.

The responsibilities of the President include:

Working in close partnership with two generations of family members to develop the strategic direction of the Foundations:

  • Partnering with the family to implement the vision and mission for the Foundations and develop a strategic, long-term approach to grantmaking efforts;
  • Ensuring the execution of efforts to achieve the family’s strategies, goals and objectives; and
  • Encouraging and developing the family’s ideas while also offering new ideas for consideration.

Leading and managing multiple Foundations:

  • Overseeing day-to-day activities, including all grantmaking efforts and managing the Foundations’ staff;
  • Developing and managing the internal infrastructure necessary to support the increased level of giving anticipated in this next chapter;
  • Attracting, managing and retaining top-tier programmatic staff;
  • Overseeing improvements of systems and processes, including the grant review and approval process;
  • Ensuring that the appropriate research and analysis are conducted, overseeing quality control and outcome evaluation;
  • Communicating effectively with the family, trustees, staff and other constituents;
  • Developing and deepening relationships with grantees and serving as an advisor to ensure thoughtful, careful, strategic grantmaking; and
  • Representing the Foundations and the family with discretion, continual communication and a commitment to confidentiality.

Candidate Profile:

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills and characteristics:

An Experienced, Confident Leader

The ideal candidate will be a seasoned, confident leader with high intellect.  S/he will have produced real outcomes in previous professional chapters.  S/he is a natural relationship builder.  S/he works well and inspires trust with a wide range of constituents and stakeholders.  This leader will have a deep interest in aiding the family as it moves successfully into the next chapter of multigenerational leadership of the Foundations.  S/he will excel at developing a partnership with the next generation of the family to ensure the vision for the Foundations is developed and implemented effectively.

Ideally, this leader will have experience in a wide range of philanthropic and/or leadership settings and will be comfortable overseeing major grantmaking initiatives.  Although s/he does not need to have subject matter expertise in every funding area the Foundations support, a shared passion for these areas will be important as will the ability to attract and leverage technical experts to support the work.  Experience in education and culture will be particularly attractive.

A Strategic Thinker

The ideal leader will be skilled at working in close partnerships to develop and set the strategic direction of an institution.  S/he will have a curious, investigative intellect and a consultative approach that will enable family members to identify and develop their philanthropic aspirations and develop a grantmaking strategy to support them.  In doing so, s/he will encourage the family’s own ideas while also bringing new ideas for consideration.  While respecting the historic grant portfolio, this leader will effectively bring new approaches forward that will enable the family to achieve greater impact with its philanthropy.

A Seasoned Manager

The ideal candidate will have a strong track record of management experience and have produced demonstrable outcomes in previous professional chapters.  This will be an executive who takes pleasure in being a ‘hands-on’ manager of an organization during a period of transition and growth.  S/he will excel at leading teams and have demonstrated success in attracting, managing and retaining top-tier staff with a diverse set of skills and providing them with a productive work environment and professional growth opportunities.  A thorough and transparent communicator, the ideal candidate will demonstrate the ability to provide clear expectations and accountability measures for staff deliverables while encouraging innovation and initiative.

A Partner with a Passion for the Mission

The ideal candidate will be motivated by the opportunity to serve as a partner to the family during a period of transition and growth in its philanthropic investments.  A natural steward, s/he will honor the past focus of the Foundations while assisting the family as it moves into this next chapter of giving.  S/he will derive pleasure from working alongside the family and other stakeholders as the Foundations develop the ‘road map’ for the future.

S/he will exhibit a high level of emotional intelligence and a mature personal style that embodies humility, and patience with quiet confidence and strength of character.  It is imperative that s/he treats others with respect and has a strong capacity to listen.  S/he will stay true to the values of the family and the Foundations, inspiring and motivating others to embody these values.  The ideal candidate is an individual of high integrity and ethical standards who understands and embraces a discrete profile and the importance of confidentiality, and can be trusted without reservation.  S/he will have a deep sense of appreciation for being entrusted with a role that can have fundamental impact.


Koya Leadership Partners, a national retained executive search firm that works with nonprofit clients, has been exclusively retained for this search. To make recommendations on candidates or express interest in the opportunity, please email Alison Ranney and Anne McCarthy at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit