Resolutions and Predictions from Our Extended Family

Family Giving News asked members of the National Center’s Friends of the Family Program to share their predictions, resolutions and trends for 2011 and beyond. Below are selected responses… Do you have a prediction, resolution or trend that you’d like to share with the Family Giving News readership? Submit your ideas and selected responses will be shared in next month’s issue.

“In the face of a damaged economy, escalating needs and shrinking financial resources, nonprofit organizations will not be able to continue with ‘business as usual.’ We will need a dramatic increase in the number of people willing to give their skills as well as their time and money. The challenge, though, may be less about increasing volunteer numbers, and more about providing opportunities which connect people with worthy opportunities that allow them to make a meaningful impact. Many organizations, however, are not prepared to utilize these additional resources effectively. Our foundation will continue to focus a major portion of our resources on helping communities and organizations build their capacity in this arena.

We as funders must recognize that volunteerism and civic engagement are not programs in themselves, but rather cost effective strategies to assist all organizations and community groups in accomplishing their missions. Our investment can provide the staffing, training and resources needed to support effective management of volunteer efforts. We can play an important role by providing the financial support needed to equip leaders to cultivate and empower these resources.”

– Jane Leighty Justis, Executive Director, The Leighty Foundation

“Family philanthropy may become more intertwined with politics either for the good or for the not-so-good. As budgets get tighter and as politicians play political games with issues that are far too serious to be handled like a game (immigration, subsidies for the less fortunate), family members who lead foundations may increasingly find themselves taking sides and becoming more vocal, while using their foundations as a means to advocate for causes. This may be especially the case if foundation leadership gets younger.

We are a small family foundation with a big mission. We focus on babies, the smallest human beings, who have big, and often unmet, needs. If every baby could have a great start in life, the impact would be enormous. We know how much brain development takes place in the first few years, we know early intervention works, we know early childhood programs are grievously underfunded. We have more than doubled the number of programs we fund since we began our Early Childhood Initiative, we offer technical assistance, we engage on a variety of levels. But do we make a difference?

Our hope for 2011 is that we can engage more people and philanthropic partners in the cause for babies and ignite passions about making a difference now so that tiny life that will have a huge impact in the future for that person and for our communities.”

–Nan Schwanfelder, President, and Kim Straus, Foundation Manager, Brindle Foundation


“Family philanthropy’s importance will steadily increase during the coming decade. My goals are to first, find ways to encourage our grandchildren’s personal, active participation whereby they will experience the personal value and satisfaction to ‘make a difference’ in others’ lives, and second, perpetuate a legacy that has proven to be so meaningful to our family and that binds the fabric of future generations.”

– Saul Mintz, Founder, The Jean and Saul A Mintz Foundation

Sarah Meyer“In the next decade, we will more clearly see the impact of ‘next gen’ family members in their 20s and 30s as they begin to engage in philanthropy–that impact being to push family philanthropy further along the continuum toward strategic, intentional philanthropy. The issues that these young adults are selecting to focus on differ from that of their parents and grandparents as they tend to be more global/universal in nature than local/particular. I am launching a ‘next gen’ committee and leading seven cousins through their first year of collaborative grantmaking. This will combine both learning about their issue area, learning how to work together, and learning how to be effective grantmakers.”

– Sarah Meyer, Executive Director at Joyce & Irving Goldman Family Foundation

“Over the next decade, younger family members who are tech savvy and have a broader world view will change the face of family foundations. In 2011, I will work with our board to create a strategic direction for the foundation that is based on a forward vision for work the family wishes to do.”

– Leah S. Gary, President and CEO, William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation

“I believe that pressure from policy makers will force the field will become more strategic, collaborative, and sophisticated in the qualitative measurement of grant results/impact. In response to this, we must move the grant conversation away from transactional analysis (Foundation X gave $Y to support early childhood education programs at the Z school.) to more results oriented (The Z school introduced a preschool reading-readiness program to X number of children ages three to five. With five-year support from the Y foundation, the program will be monitored by national education experts for effectiveness, altered as needed, and the successful model will be put in place statewide by 2016.) We need to move the conversation away from the money and toward strategic grantmaking. To do this, we need to integrate strategic communications into all aspects of grantmaking, include program officers and communications staff in the analysis of grant opportunities, and include communication dollars in the grant amount and help grant recipients talk about their work in new and substantive ways.”

– Carol Stabler, Director of Communications, The Meadows Foundation

“My wish for 2011 is that more families that are part of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta will work with us and actively engage their children in their philanthropy and know the joy family giving can be for a family.”

– Alicia Philipp, President, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

“Over the past 18-24 months, our Foundation has become a much more focused and reflective organization. We want to be sure we add value to those with whom we interact in a way that is as substantial as the resources we bring to bear. As one of the largest and most active foundations in the Jewish world, we feel a responsibility to contribute to Jewish life proportionately. We recognize the importance of our working as hard, effectively and collaboratively as possible, as well as never acting with complacence or hubris.

We have been asking ourselves some tough questions—namely, unless we contribute in significantly greater ways, what real value are we adding over and above the financial resources we are distributing? This means we are placing a greater emphasis than ever before on ensuring that whenever we make a contribution, whether it be financial or intellectual, we are doing so in a way that brings to bear the full force of our foundation.

Our challenge is to move beyond the most obvious ways of assisting to the more difficult, interstitial areas of Jewish life. By interstitial, I mean those critical places of intersection and connection that fall just outside the purview of any one funder or any single organization—the area in which only successful collaborations can make the kind of difference necessary to achieve large-scale change.

With this in mind, in 2011, we resolve to spend much more time and energy on:

  • Incentivizing and increasing collaboration and partnerships between our grantees;
  • Employing rigorous evaluation to measure impact, refine approaches and boost the effectiveness of the organizations we support and the fields in which they operate; and
  • Providing a new kind of leadership rooted in catalytic philanthropy, in which we are focused on engaging all corners of the Jewish world in working toward systemic change, rather than on individualized, silo-ed efforts.

We will continue to challenge ourselves to find the most effective ways to use our resources—both human and financial—to maximize our impact and fulfill our vision of empowering young Jews to embrace the joy of Judaism, build inclusive Jewish communities, support the State of Israel and repair the world.

– Sandy Cardin, President, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation

“Our goals include continuing Cemala’s partnership with six other foundations as we work to enhance the environment to bring more and better paying jobs to our community. Our Action Greensboro partnership results in a focused approach, greater dollars for the community, and resources (people and information) for foundation directors, which we otherwise would not have.”

– Susan Shore Schwartz, Executive Director, Cemala Foundation

“The Russell Family Foundation will continue to find ways to integrate a culture of respect and honesty with our grantees. This will allow them to talk more openly about their learnings and goals both amongst themselves, and with regard to their programs and the greater community impact they wish to see.”

– Zac Russell, Intern and Next Gen Family Member, Russell Family Foundation

“Family philanthropy should be both enjoyable and effective. In this regard, as a family member and the professional executive director I have the dual role of managing the foundation’s grant-making program and ensuring that the family is involved in enjoying the results of its generosity. To this end I plan on increasing the number of ‘VIP site visits’ wherein the family/board joins me in visiting our grantees in action with the purpose of observing programs, meeting staff and participants and gaining a sense of satisfaction, rather than being solicited for the next gift – that’s my job for another visit.

Our foundation’s grantmaking can become more effective through learning, sharing, networking, and continuing to add value to our grantees beyond the gift. Professional development of foundation management as well as learning more about the fields we fund must continue. So too should networking and sharing with foundation colleagues. Finally, there is always more that can be done to be more sensitive to our grantees’ needs and concerns. After all, our job is to empower and assist those in the field to achieve the maximum impact.”

– David Roth, The Yoreinu Foundation

“The ability to be philanthropically articulate has increased over the last few years. I believe that this will have a positive effect on families as younger generations see themselves as having earned their enfranchisement in family decision making. [It is important to acknowledge that access to information does not necessarily make one an informed consumer of it.] It may also have a negative impact when this leads to inter-generational push pull within families. My sense is that the real tensions which are emerging are not between the founder generation and the next, but rather between the 3rd and 4th generation vs. the 2nd generation.”

– Richard Marker, Co-Principal at Marker Goldsmith Philanthropy

Do you have a prediction, resolution or trend that you’d like to share with the Family Giving News readership? Submit your ideas and selected responses will be shared in next month’s issue.

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