In the early 1980s, the Institute of Food Technologists embarked on expansion of its Public Information Program. This new and innovative strategic direction engendered what was to become IFT’s Office of Scientific and Public Affairs (OSPA).
To generate supplemental funding for initiating OSPA, IFT needed to solicit contributions from its members and corporations. Potential donors were eligible to receive a tax deduction for contributions by virtue of IFT’s 501(c) (3) tax status. However, association industry trends supported IFT’s belief that corporations would be more inclined to contribute to a foundation than to IFT directly. Therefore, in October 1985, IFT created a separate not-for-profit corporation and 501(c) (3) tax entity chartered as the IFT Foundation.
The affairs of the Foundation are managed by its Board of Directors, composed of three officers, twelve directors, the immediate past president of IFT’s Student Association, and five ex-officio members (IFT’s President, President-Elect, Treasurer, Executive Vice President, and Vice President of Finance and Administration), serving staggered terms. Half of the directors for which openings are available each year are appointed by the Board, and half are appointed by the IFT President.
The Board members have the fiduciary obligation of exercising reasonable business judgment and avoiding conflicts of interest as they carry out their duties and responsibilities. Their duties include ensuring that the Foundation’s charter is being followed; understanding and committing to the Foundation’s fundamental reason for existence; establishing fiscal and operational policy; and assuming leadership roles in fund-raising activities.
In July 1999, the Foundation board approved an updated strategic plan that included the following:
• Vision Statement: The IFT Foundation will become institutionalized and woven into the fabric of IFT.
• Mission Statement: The IFT Foundation provides supplementary funding to IFT for initiating and advancing innovative food science and technology programs.
• Goals to be attained by 2002: (1) the IFT Foundation will have a clear identity to all stakeholders; (2) the IFT Foundation will provide, in perpetuity, significant support to IFT’s programs; and (3) the IFT Foundation will become financially self-sustaining.
The Foundation’s fundamental reason for existence is to provide financial support exclusively for IFT. As stated in its by-laws, “The IFT Foundation’s purpose is to provide supplementary funding to IFT for initiating and advancing innovative food science and technology programs.”
Ten years ago, the Foundation’s net asset base was a meager $33,000. Since then, that base has grown to $4.6 million, and the Foundation has expended approximately $3.5 million in support of IFT programs. It has had significant impact on the following IFT activities:
• Expansion of OSPA into the Science Communications Dept. (now Science, Communications, and Government).
• Initiation and continuous support of the Congressional Science Fellow Program.
• Awarding of scholarships and fellowships.
• Career guidance activities, including development and distribution of career guidance videos and science experiment booklets (print and electronic) and presentation of High School Science Teacher Workshops.
• Presentation of awards (Loncin, Chang, Oser).
• Keystone Project Administration.
• IFT Fellows University Visitation Program.
Although funding proposals may originate from anywhere, all requests are channeled through IFT’s governance structure for approval and prioritization. IFT’s planning procedures provide the mechanism for proposals to be considered for funding by the Foundation. These procedures are linked to IFT’s ongoing strategic planning process and committee structure. Ultimately, all proposals must be prioritized and approved by IFT’s Executive Committee.
The Foundation grants and distributes funds based on its available resources and donor restrictions. Outcomes from approved programs are monitored by IFT and reported back to the Foundation.
We invite contributions to the IFT Foundation from individuals, corporations, and foundations. To learn more about the Foundation and its activities, we invite you to stop by the IFT Foundation booth in The World of IFT at this year’s IFT Annual Meeting in Dallas. We will have an IFT Foundation Board member available to answer your questions. We look forward to seeing you in Dallas!
by RICK GUARDIA
Chairman of the Board, IFT Foundation