National Center for Family Philanthropy and Threshold Group Launch Exploratory Study to Help Private Family Foundations

June 2012

Research will focus on best practices for family offices and private family foundations

DATE: June 15, 2012


Chris Phillips, 253-857-1602 /
Kathy Whelpley, 202-350-9379/

SEATTLE, WA / WASHINGTON D.C - The National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) and Threshold Group have created a collaborative initiative designed to explore and improve working relationships between private family foundations and family offices. This new initiative, sponsored by Threshold Group and conducted in partnership with the Family Office Exchange, will encompass research, publicized reports and social media outreach, all aimed at identifying “best practices” for how family foundations and family offices can effectively work together to maximize respective impacts.

NCFP will form an advisory committee to guide the process, conduct research and publish a report for families involved in both family offices and philanthropic efforts. Threshold will provide funding and offer assistance in both the research and education phases of the initiative. The work will occur during the second half of 2012.
“This is a unique and truly meaningful opportunity to reach out directly to families to identify how they are using family offices to support and manage their family foundations and philanthropic efforts, and, in turn, how the family offices are helping them make the differences they are seeking in the communities they care about,” said Virginia Esposito, President of the National Center for Family Philanthropy. “The scope of our work will delve deeply into issues of structure, of engaging younger generations, and how to close the gaps ‒ real or perceived ‒ between family foundations and family offices.”
The hope of both organizations is that this initiative will lead to an annual survey in 2013 on the family philanthropy field and its trends. As part of the 2012 study, NCFP will engage an advisory committee of family foundation stakeholders and family office leaders and advisors to inform a comprehensive paper on the relationship between the family office and family foundations. Threshold Group’s Craig Muska, Director of Investment Management for Foundation Services, will serve on the advisory committee and provide input during NCFP’s research effort.
“We see this as a rare opportunity to put aside all our assumptions and continue uncovering better ways for family offices and philanthropies to work together,” said Muska. “Family foundations are visionary and creative – they aren’t content to just color between the lines. They want to do the responsible thing with their investments, but they also see themselves as vastly different from the broader universe of corporate or community foundations. We expect this research will generate some entrepreneurial ideas that will help everyone involved.”
The research and a resulting white paper will be written from families’ perspectives and will feature real-life stories that examine philanthropic challenges and opportunities. The paper will explore topics such as:

  • How family offices can help families maximize impact on communities they care about;
  • How family offices can be structured to help families centralize their giving and investing;
  • Advantages and disadvantages of creating a new family office or becoming part of a multi-family office;
  • Efforts to bridge the generational divides that often emerges in families;
  • Questions of a “class divide” between members of family offices and family foundations;
  • Ways that family offices may reflect and project an individual family’s attitudes.

Findings, reports and articles generated by the work of NCFP will be shared publicly and within the professional networks of both organizations. The program may result in a continuing annual survey in order to track ongoing trends and developments among family foundations and family offices.
NCFP has entered into this co-sponsored initiative as part of it efforts to encourage individuals and families to create and sustain a philanthropic mission. The member-based, non-profit organization works to provide family foundations and their advisors with access to the highest quality information and support to achieve their mission, meet all of their needs and ensure a family legacy.
For Threshold Group, the sponsorship of NCFP is part of a recently introduced Foundation Services program, an offering created by the multi-family office in order to cater to the distinct needs of private family foundations. In working closely with its clients, Threshold has seen family foundations urging financial advisors to more closely embrace their philanthropic mission so that investment strategies can be aligned – or at least not misaligned – with the group’s charitable purpose.
Threshold Group’s Foundations Services team has also teamed up this year with the Global Impacting Investing Network (GIIN) and Sound Philanthropy, two organizations devoted to helping philanthropic families achieve impacts that serve a family’s mission.
“We expect this NCFP/Threshold sponsorship effort will help both our organizations learn from one another, and we want to extend that learning to those living and working in the broader arena of family philanthropy and wealth management,” said Muska.

About NCFP

The National Center for Family Philanthropy ( is a nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to families who give and those that work with them. With extensive expertise in governance, grantmaking, planning and evaluation, NCFP is positioned to help emerging philanthropists and mature foundations and funds improve their work and expand their effectiveness. The NCFP, headquartered in Washington, DC, was founded 14 years ago in response to the need for a national resource center dedicated to serving the needs of specific donors and their families.
About Threshold Group

Threshold Group ( is a family office organization serving the financial and wealth management needs of a select number of families and private family foundations throughout the U.S. The Threshold experience is designed to fortify families for the long term by providing institutional-quality investment insights, goals-based advice and holistic planning, delivered by seasoned professionals who genuinely care for their clients. The firm was established initially in 1999 as a single-family office and today has four offices in Seattle, WA; Gig Harbor, WA; Philadelphia, PA; and Portland, OR. Threshold employs approximately 40 associates, works with approximately 50 family clients and oversees about $2.7 billion in client assets.

About Family Office Exchange

Family Office Exchange, operates a global community of private investors and wealthy families who are pursuing best practices for optimal management of their families’ wealth and legacy. The community includes over 6,000 people from 650 organizations in 20 countries who utilize FOX’s resources for advice, networking, education, and comparative metrics each year. FOX provides strategic advisory services as well as a variety of membership options supporting families of differing experience levels – from private investors with virtual offices , those just setting up their family office, as well as business owners and multi-generational families with sophisticated, well-established offices. FOX is headquartered in Chicago and London, with offices in New York and Boston.

Connect with NCFP

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