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Excellence in Giving

In 2005, CNJG adopted Guiding Beliefs & Principles to offer a thoughtful source of direction and inspiration to help guide our state’s philanthropic sector into the future. CNJG first launched its Excellence in Giving initiative in 2007 with the goal is to provide grantmakers the practical tools necessary to ensure best practice in their operations and grantmaking.

The first booklet, Guiding Beliefs & Principles for New Jersey Grantmakers includes a wealth of insights and tips related to board governance, legal compliance, grantee communications, fiscal responsibility, public disclosure, and many other key areas of foundation governance and operations. It contains wisdom provided by leaders of all types of giving organizations within the CNJG’s membership, and is intended to serve as a practical resource to assist New Jersey foundations in their grantmaking.


In 2010 CNJG released a second, comprehensive resource to help the state’s philanthropic community understand their ethical, legal, and fiduciary requirements and obligations - What Every Grantmaker Should Know and Frequently Asked Legal Questions. These two booklets are key publications in CNJG’s Excellence In Giving Series. While the Guiding Beliefs & Principles is available publically, members will need to log into access the legal guide for download.

Guiding Beliefs & Principals

The Council of New Jersey Grantmakers believes:

  • Philanthropy contributes to a thriving democracy and is a privilege and a responsibility.
  • Grantmaking is a partnership with grantees and the public, conducted in the public trust.
  • Philanthropy must be undertaken seriously and responsibly, adhering to all laws and principles of fiduciary responsibility.
  • Thoughtful grantmaking is informed by different perspectives, opinions and experiences.

In accordance with these beliefs:

  1. We deal respectfully and courteously with our applicants, grantees and donors as well as with those seeking information about our programs. We honor the confidentiality of our applicants, grantees, and donors and exercise discretion in our communications.
  2. We are clear and accessible about our goals and grantmaking processes and make information about our application requirements, funding priorities and programs available on a timely basis.
  3. We adhere to the highest ethical, legal and fiduciary standards in our operations. We recognize and disclose conflicts of interest and work to avoid perceived conflicts of interest. We maintain active oversight of all financial and investment matters.
  4. We regularly assess our mission and practices, including periodic review of priorities, policies, board activity, communications and the impact of our grantmaking.
  5. We seek to continually educate ourselves and expose ourselves to different perspectives, opinions and experiences, and, where appropriate, to share our learning and experience with our grantees, the public and government officials.

To support New Jersey’s philanthropic community in adhering to these principles, the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers provides opportunities for learning, through on-going programs, the sharing of best practices and lessons learned, and information about federal and state laws and regulations. CNJG is mindful that its members have individual charters and varying levels of staff and Board capacity, and we conduct our ongoing conversation about “best practice” with these differences in mind. Adopted July 2005

Members can request additional copies of the booklets mentioned on this page by contacting Theresa Jacks.