Family Philanthropy Playbook for Community Foundations

Unit 1: Getting Started

In 2006-08, a group of community foundations worked with The Philanthropic Initiative to define a framework for success measures for family philanthropy services. Many apply to a broader portfolio of donor education and engagement activities.

Those community foundations noted that goals and success measures for family philanthropy services evolve over time. That evolution could be driven by any of these factors:

  • Changing demand for services by donor families, driven by earlier successes by the community foundation and/or transitions in the family;
  • Community foundation staff increasing their skills and time-on-task for serving families;
  • Changes to the community foundation’s strategic and business plans, sometimes because of donor families and the foundation finding more ways of working together to benefit the community; and
  • On rarer occasions, unexpected external events such as the Great Recession.

READ: Measures of Success Thought Paper [members only]

TPI’s 15-page thought paper on goals and success measures for family philanthropy services also discusses potential tensions and synergies between the measures.

DISCUSS: Measures of Success Worksheet  [members only]

Use this worksheet to prioritize goals and success measures for family philanthropy services. The results can guide internal discussions about the foundation’s highest priorities for evaluating progress.

BORROW AND ADAPT: Family Philanthropy Services Logic Model [members only]

NCFP created this sample logic model based on materials from TPI and other resources. We would love to see your adaptations for your services. Please send those to and we’ll add them to the Playbook.

READ: Other Assessment Resources

Looking for additional guidance on evaluation and assessment? Here are some good places to start.

Building an Strategic Learning and Evaluation System for Your Organization (FSG, 2013) – This guide provides a framework and set of practices that can help organizations be more systematic, coordinated, and intentional about what to evaluate, when, why, with whom, and with what resources.

Getting Started with Data-Driven Decision Making: A Workbook (NTEN, 2013) – Have trouble navigating what data to use? This resource for nonprofits has helpful worksheets to define guiding questions, choosing metrics that make sense for different audiences, and more.

Community Foundation Family Philanthropy Services Evaluation Toolkit (Blueprint Research & Design and The Philanthropic Initiative, 2007) [members only] – This toolkit from 2007 is presented “as is”. It provides helpful context on program evaluation, support for developing and implementing focus groups, and questions for internal reflection. However, the donor survey it describes is no longer available.