A view of Boston's historic Pilot House from the harbor

Matt Conti

From the President – Fall 2014

For us at the Barr Foundation, this past summer has provided an opportunity to give greater definition to the values that guide Barr’s philanthropy.

Dear friends,

In philanthropy values matter. Philanthropy represents an active manifestation of the impulse to give back, and for anyone who engages in a philanthropic act—whether as an individual donor or part of a larger enterprise—the values that inform that act are paramount.

For us at the Barr Foundation, this past summer has provided an opportunity to give greater definition to the values that animate Barr’s philanthropy. At a time when we are reflecting carefully upon the work we have done to date, what we have learned from those efforts, and how those lessons might inform the ways in which Barr will evolve in the future, this explicit articulation of our values will be an essential guide. In our case, given the ability to benefit from the perspectives of our founding trustees, Barbara and Amos Hostetter, we have identified a set of values to guide the Barr Foundation not just today, but well into the future.

I am pleased to share the following statement of Barr's core values, approved at our September trustee meeting:

The Barr Foundation is guided by a set of core values, which emanate from our founders, articulate our beliefs about what constitutes effective philanthropy, and describe how we carry out our mission of service.

  • Strive for excellence: We aim for the highest standards of performance, integrity, and service, in all dimensions of our work.
  • Invest in leaders: We support effective, visionary, and collaborative leaders, who motivate others, drive change, and produce results.
  • Act with humility: We approach our activities with respect for our partners, recognizing the privilege inherent in philanthropic work.
  • Demonstrate curiosity: We actively solicit new perspectives to inform our work, understanding that solutions reside with those we serve.
  • Adopt a long-term perspective: We take an expansive view, considering the implications of today’s decisions for future generations.
  • Embrace risk: We pursue ambitious goals, which requires comfort with the possibility of failure and a commitment to learning.

In the months ahead, as we identify how Barr’s priorities will evolve these values will be at the center of those decisions.

At their best values are not simply statements that are adopted and filed away; rather, they are expressed daily in the work of the institution. Our aspiration for these values is that they not only inform what work we do, but also how we carry out our mission of service. In the end, and with your support, we must—and will—hold ourselves accountable to living out these values in our actions, our relationships, and our work.

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