Ellie Frey Zagel is a third generation Trustee and Vice Chair of her family’s foundation, the Frey Foundation. The foundation was endowed with the proceeds from her family’s businesses in banking and insurance. As Ellie points out, many people in her family think like bankers and loan officers; it’s a value that has been passed down through the generations.
This value shows up in the foundation’s grantmaking in its comprehensive due diligence process. For Ellie, knowing that her family’s approach to philanthropy was inspired by her great grandparents and grandparents is a point of pride. It’s just one of the ways that her family carries forward their legacy.
In this episode, Ellie takes a deep dive into the topic of due diligence. What is it and what does it actually look like in practice? To help explain it all, Ellie is joined by Lynne Ferrell, Program Director at the Frey Foundation. Ellie and Lynne have known each other for two decades and Ellie credits with Lynne with her growth as a philanthropist.
Learn more about Lynne in her bio below. You can reach her at freyfdn.org.
In this episode:
- Meet Lynne (5:18)
- The Frey Foundation ‘seal of approval’ (7:50)
- Why due diligence matters and how it works (8:25)
- 3 stages of due diligence (10:56)
- Stage 1: inquiry and strategic fit (11:35)
- Stage 2: research and analysis (15:18)
- Red flags in the process (25:15)
- Stage 3: recommendations and conclusions (27:18)
- Collaborations are key (28:47)
- The impact of due diligence for the foundation, nonprofits and the funding community (32:39)
- Lesson learned (35:47)
- Giving support and building capacity beyond the grant (37:37)
- How to find Lynne (40:40)
- Bonus questions (41:00)
Lynne is currently on staff at the Frey Foundation, one of the largest family foundations in Michigan. Her responsibilities include the development, review, and evaluation of grants that advance the programmatic efforts the Foundation. Lynne leads the portfolio management of the Foundations four grantmaking focus areas – Enhancing the Lives of Children and Their Families, Building Community, Community Arts and Environment. She also provides leadership on major community-impact initiatives.
Prior to joining the Frey Foundation, Lynne worked as a strategic planning consultant with the Greystone Companies in Grand Rapids and Washington DC. There she managed national program initiatives for a national non-profit agency and worked with community-based agencies around the country providing technical assistance and capacity building assistance to project partners.
Lynne spent nearly a decade working as the Vice President for Small Business at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. Under her leadership, the organization expanded services to family owned businesses, minority-owned firms and fostered collaborative partnerships with lenders, attorneys, and marketing professionals on behalf of the broader West Michigan small business community.
Lynne is a veteran of the United States Army and has served on a number of community boards including the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Interurban Transit Partnership. Currently, Lynne is on the Boards of the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, and Spectrum Health Hospital. She is also a Co-Chair of KConnect, Kent County’s collective impact initiative and in the leadership of the First Steps Commission the Great Start Collaborative – Kent County, and the Kent County Family and Children’s Coordinating Council.
Notable & Quotable:
Due diligence is an investigation and fact-finding mission. —Lynne Ferrell #successfulgenerations #familyphilanthropy
Our due diligence process is set up in three stages: the inquiry and strategic fit stage; research and analysis stage; and the conclusion and recommendations stage. —Lynne Ferrell #successfulgenerations #familyphilanthropy
If a nonprofit hasn’t allowed the voices of the community to inform the work, it’s not likely, from our perspective, that it will have lasting effects. —Lynne Ferrell #successfulgenerations #familyphilanthropy
Collaborations are the backbone of our work. —Lynne Ferrell #successfulgenerations #familyphilanthropy
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If you are the next generation of family business, philanthropy and wealth, and have a topic you think we should discuss, let us know at Ellie@successfulgenerations.com.