Guiding Principles

The Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation and The Mayerson Foundation strive to find a balance in applying the guiding principles articulated below. We are not “rule bound” in our work but instead aim to use good common sense that is consistent with the values of our founders and the principles below.

1. We are broad and entrepreneurial in our grantmaking.

We are generalists more than specialists, meaning we are open to considering good ideas in a variety of areas as opposed to defining a narrow band of activity for our grant making. We value being proactive and involved and are willing to take risks inherent in the process of innovation. Overall, we aim to develop a portfolio of high-quality grants in which a high percentage produce a good social “return on investment”.

2. We look for niche roles.

Within the community of grant makers we seek to “fill gaps” - to discover and understand unmet/unpopular needs and support innovative solutions to these needs. We prefer to support efforts that do not have ready sources of support. Within each funding opportunity, we aim to have our support be leveraged, catalytic, cost-effective and targeted. By leveraged we mean that the grantee’s operations are efficient, that our support can help access other sources of support (public and/or private), and that the efforts target people who will, in turn, improve the lives of many others with whom they interact.

3. We help people with real need to achieve their potential and be treated with basic dignity and respect.

We place a particular emphasis on addressing the needs of people that exist on the margins of power and priority and who are making, or willing to make, a good effort to live to their potential and help others. We also support those who are working hard but need some assistance to pursue higher aspirations and to more fully develop their talent.

Our populations of interest are:
– Children and Youth
– People with Disabilities
– Jewish People- especially weakly connected & elderly
– People Living in Poverty

Our areas of interest are:
– The Arts
– Basic Needs
– Civic Engagement
– Education
– Health and Well-Being
– Inclusion
– Jewish Community Continuity

4. We define our geographic areas based on familiarity and relationships.

When funding projects of local scope we have a preference for Cincinnati, Ohio and locales where our Trustees live. For funding outside those areas, and for regional, national, or international projects, the project must fit well within our grantmaking criteria.

5. We selectively reinvest in our “inventory”.

We understand that some organizations need support for long periods of time as they work to sustain themselves and we are willing to provide such support selectively. We try to help these organizations in developing fully their funding base with an eye towards not creating over-reliance on our assistance.

6. Tikun Olam - Repairing the world

The work of our foundations is our expression of our heritage and one of the basic tenets of Judaism – tikun olam, or repairing the world – the notion that it is our obligation to leave the world in a better condition than we found it. In doing this work we prefer to “teach a person to fish” as opposed to "feeding a person a fish.” This means that overall, we would like our efforts to be aimed at helping people broaden and build their capabilities to better control their own fate as opposed to simply filling a current need on a temporary basis. However, we do believe that a certain amount of our work should support organizations that do temporarily fill emergent needs, especially if the organization also helps with personal empowerment.

7. Business-like operating

We want our charitable assets to be invested and distributed in a business-like fashion. By this, we mean that there be thorough due diligence, active oversight, routine accounting and reporting, and evaluation of effectiveness. We intend for decisions to be made based on merits as opposed to personal favors. We expect that there be a systematic approach to investments and distributions and that adequate progress against goals be articulated and measured. And, we expect that administrative costs will be responsibly controlled.

8. Balance and common sense

We are not primarily “rule bound” in our approach to our work but instead rely on common sense and balance in applying our guiding principles and shared values. We try to strike a balance between the efficiency of doing fewer grants of large size with the community need for greater numbers of relatively small grants. We try to strike a balance between focusing on our own areas of interest and expertise and responding to needs that lie outside those areas of focus. We try to strike a balance between pushing for accountability and outcomes and accepting the inherent difficulty of some projects to produce such measurable results.

Mayerson Family Foundations    |    312 Walnut Street   |   Suite 3600    |    Cincinnati, OH 45202   |    513-621-7500 |   [email protected]