From the Archive: Things We Wish Our Founders Had Told Us

David and Lucile Packard. Courtesy of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation

NCFP’s From the Archive series highlights resources from our Knowledge Center that have stood the test of time and continue to provide valuable guidance for the field. 

In 2016, 20 years after the death of her father, Susan Packard Orr reflected on the challenges of interpreting donor legacy. Susan wrote that, after asking her father to share what he wanted the Packard Foundation to support after his death, “he refused, saying that he had changed his own mind over the years as new information, challenges and issues emerged and he could not foresee what were going to be the most important issues in the future.” While Susan admired this advice, and appreciated that her parents did not burden them with a long list of dos and don’ts, she noted, “I think, though, that we might have benefitted from a little more direction.”  

“As we move on to the next generation, it is important that we find the right balance between honoring you while providing the freedom to make the work fun and exciting.” 

While Susan and her siblings were very clear on the values her parents held dear, she named the other information that she would have benefitted from knowing, including: 

  • Who were your favorite grantees? 
  • What were your feelings about naming gifts? 
  • How important is it that we continue to support the local community where the funds were created? 
  • What were your goals for family involvement? 
  • Did you have strong feelings about specific program areas for the foundation to support? 
  • Did you intend for the foundation to exist in perpetuity? 

Read the full publication to explore what information might be useful for a founder to share with the next generation and how to balance useful direction with flexibility for the future. 

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