Featured Article Posts

Exhibit in Review: Giving in America

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on February 1, 2017

Last December, NCFP’s staff ventured out to explore the Giving in America exhibit at the Smithsonian National American History Museum in Washington, D.C. Here are our takeaways.

It’s Time for Grantmakers to Embrace Failure

Posted by Katherine Lorenz on October 5, 2016

Philanthropy often encourages grantees to take risks, to be innovative, to find new solutions to old problems. Indeed, many refer to philanthropy as “risk capital,” providing funding that can help society create innovative, new models for addressing the world’s most intractable social issues. But risk and innovation often bring an uncomfortable consequence: failure.

Gratitude and humility in philanthropy; from a story, to a value, to action

Posted by Douglas Bitonti Stewart and Julie Fisher Cummings on September 6, 2016

The importance of documenting the ethos of our founders is well known in family philanthropy. Authors and leaders throughout the field have published articles and tools (e.g. Grandparent Legacy Project) aimed to help families ask questions to elicit the core values of our founders. These values are the backbone of our work. And when we are able to connect our founders’ values to real-life stories, it can have a profound impact on our families and those we serve.

The Parklands Project: A place-based project from the C.E. & S. Foundation

Posted by Daniel H. Jones on July 31, 2016

What if our generation aspired to create what our predecessors had by getting out ahead of the growth of our city and creating a new system of parks that would inject new life into Louisville’s neighborhoods? As a second-generation trustee of my family’s foundation, the C. E. & S. Foundation, I knew I had access to a resource that could help answer this important question.

Expanding your comfort zone: 5 windows into risk in family philanthropy (Passages excerpt)

Posted by Tony Macklin on May 5, 2016

Philanthropy is often described as society’s “risk capital.” Our generosity can support causes and ideas that business and government agencies cannot or will not. We can use our resources to inspire new ideas, challenge existing thinking, or continue supporting an organization when others won’t. However, the idea of risk in philanthropy quickly muddies as we direct our generosity through a family foundation, donor-advised fund, or other collective effort. Our ideas about and tolerance for risk diverge, shaped by individual, family branch, professional, and other experiences.

Aligning your external mission with your family’s values

Posted by Douglas Bitonti Stewart on April 4, 2016

In our day-to-day work in family philanthropy, we often worry about ‘what’ we do and don’t often pause to consider the ‘why.’ We spend a lot of time crafting and stewarding our external mission statements to describe the impact we’d like to make in the world with partners and the people inside the issues we hope to face. But perhaps we should also spend some concerted time thinking about the why — asking questions like, "Why is our family involved in philanthropy? What impact do we hope to see in our families through this work?”

Generations Together: Tools for teaching the next generation to give

Posted by Virginia Esposito on March 1, 2016

According to the National Center for Family Philanthropy’s recent 2015 Trends Study, nearly 3 in 5 U.S. family foundations engage younger family members in the foundation — and more than 40% say they expect to add to or increase the number of younger-generation family members on their boards in just the next four years. This is an encouraging trend — especially for those of us who believe that these important institutions can have a much greater impact if they can keep the family productively engaged in their work.

Adding non-family board members: Q&A with Penelope McPhee of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on February 2, 2016

When the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation added four non-family members to its board, it wanted to bring new perspectives into its meetings, while also promoting the integrity and values of the family and the foundation.

Six family philanthropy trends to watch in 2016

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on January 7, 2016

2015 was a remarkable year for family philanthropy. It brought the release of landmark new research on our field, new investments in programs that address many of our world’s most pressing challenges, and a spirit of optimism and cooperation that inspires unprecedented collaboration and progress. As we get back to work after the holidays, we’re looking ahead to another exciting year in 2016. Here are six things you can expect to see in the next 12 months that will impact your work...

Sticking the landing: A growing trend toward spending out

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on December 2, 2015

For much of the 20th century, the vast majority of U.S. foundations operated under the assumption that they would be in business forever. However, as a new generation of family philanthropists take over — and families contemplate just how long forever actually lasts — a growing number are deciding that they would rather spend down their assets during a set period of time than manage their endowments in perpetuity.

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