Ask the Center

The National Center fields requests for information every day from giving families, colleagues, professional advisors, and members of the media. Questions touch on family dynamics, engaging the next generation, grantmaking, giving vehicles, administration and management, legal and ethical issues, and a host of other topics.

Here we share our latest answers from the field of family giving. Do you have a question? Email us, and we'll respond—perhaps even featuring your Q&A on this page.

September 2011: Conducting site visits

July 2011: Starting a family foundation – where do we turn for guidance?

June 2011: Attracting the right grantseekers… and keeping them from drowning in paperwork

May 2011: Keeping “Control”

April 2011: Private Operating Foundations

March 2011: Donor Legacy Statements

December 2010: Who's Family?

November 2010: Family as Staff

October 2010: Tips and Tools for Effective Family Board Meetings

September 2010: Managing Relationships with Your Legal, Financial, and Investment Advisors

August 2010: Emeritus Board Members

June 2009: Frustrating Family Board Meetings

October 2008: Payout

September 2008: Giving Internationally When the Dollar Is Down

July 2008: Advocacy, Lobbying, and Propaganda?

June 2008: Embedded Philanthropy

May 2008: The Best Minimum Age for Board Members?

April 2008: Board Compensation

March 2008: Child Care and More

February 2008: Travel Expenses for Next Generation Board Members

January 2008: Substantial Contributors

December 2007: Geographic Dispersion

November 2007: Discretionary Grants


The first recorded mention of the word from which "philanthropy" is derived occurs in the play Prometheus Bound, written around 430 BCE by the Greek tragedian Aeschylus.  It refers to the Titan Prometheus' "love of humanity" that drove him to steal fire from the gods and give it to humans.

We consult NCFP frequently to provide services to our members and answer questions about family philanthropy.  It is an essential resource!

-Robin Berkson, Donors Forum