This article aims at filling an important gap in governance literature. Most governance studies are board-focused and hardly differentiate between different types of non-profit organisations. Surveys on governance structures of independent grant-making foundations are almost non-existent
in the current literature. Due to the heavy focus on boards, the roles of executive directors in governance are somewhat neglected. This article presents the results of a multiple case study research project with 12 grant-making foundations in Germany and Switzerland with chief executives
as interview partners. Findings show that the roles of the board and the executive director in governance functions vary. Different patterns of foundation governance are evident. Based on a model developed by Saidel and Harlan (1998), we showcase four governance structures in grant-making
foundations and use ideal-typical organisational charts for illustration. The results of this study shed light on the black boxes of foundations and inform practice and research alike.
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