Family Philanthropy Playbook for Community Foundations


This Playbook builds on:

Is this tool for me?

We’ve designed the Family Philanthropy Playbook to serve the staff and board members of community foundations and other community philanthropy organizations such as women’s funds and Jewish federations. Foundations of any size will find useful information and resources. However, the Playbook will be especially useful to those that:

  • Have donor services or philanthropic services staff and at least a few donors or fund holders wishing to actively involve family members, and
  • Have already implemented basic philanthropic services and want to expand on and improve them.

Unsure if family philanthropy services are right for your foundation? Click here to learn about our free Family Philanthropy Readiness self-assessment tool.

What are “family philanthropy services”?

They are community foundation programs, activities, and products that actively involve multiple generations and/or branches of a family in effectively giving, granting, learning, investing, and/or volunteering together. Examples include creating family mission and values statements, facilitating family meetings, creating governance and succession plans, preparing heirs for leadership roles (“next gen programs”), and helping families engage in community leadership and problem-solving activities.

These services can be offered on a limited basis to a few donor families, be an integrated part of other philanthropic services, and/or be a branded and marketed center of excellence. Each foundation offers a different mix based on donor demand, staff expertise, internal goals, and business model.

To learn more about how family philanthropy services can fit into a larger portfolio of donor stewardship and donor services activities, see Module 3: Social Value Proposition.

How does the Playbook work?

We organized the Family Philanthropy Playbook around 9 modules of information. Each module contains key issues that foundations face when planning and delivering family philanthropy services. You’ll find materials to read, examples to download, webinar recordings and topical call recordings to review, and links to external resources. We’ll be adding to these resources over time as we learn more from our subscribing community foundations and other partners.

The basic information in each module is free to the public. Webinar recordings, topical calls, and most downloadable templates and examples are only available to NCFP’s subscribers. Click here to learn more about the benefits NCFP can provide to community foundation staff and, through you, to your donors and fund holders.

Where do I start?

1. Explore on Your Own

You can explore the modules in order and/or dive in to a topic that interests you. The outline of the modules will always appear on the left side of your screen, and each module begins with an overview of its content. You can also download an outline here.

2. Use Planning Templates

We’ve created two tools that you can download to help you create a plan for family philanthropy services. Each download will spur internal conversations and decisions, so it may take you some time to complete them. You can pick the template that best fits your foundation’s approach for planning.

  • Business Model Canvas – use this tool to create an internal business plan that defines a customer base and its needs, your unique value proposition and competitors, pricing of services and products, a cost and revenue pro-forma, and more.
  • Case Statement – use this tool if you’re building the case for dedicating new internal resources and/or raising new money for your family philanthropy services.

3. Quickly Fill a Need

These links provide shortcuts to key resources in the Playbook.

Who created the Playbook?

NCFP developed and launched the Family Philanthropy Playbook in 2017 and 2018 with generous underwriting from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and Lilly Endowment, Inc. NCFP consultants Tony Macklin, CAP® and Peter Panepento authored new content and curated information provided by our Content Partners and members of our Community Foundations Family Philanthropy Network. We owe a special thanks to The Philanthropic Initiative for donating the materials created through its 2006-2008 Excellence in Family Philanthropy program for community foundations.

NCFP also thanks the many community foundation staff who participated in the planning and beta testing of the Playbook:

Volunteer Task Force

  • Joanne Cohen, M.Ed., J.D., The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida
  • Katie Donnelly, Philanthropic Advisor, The Seattle Foundation
  • Jason Franklin, Ph.D., W.K. Kellogg Community Philanthropy Chair, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
  • Audrey Jacobs, former Director of the Center for Family Philanthropy, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
  • Rob MacPherson, CAP®, VP for Development and Philanthropic Services, Central Indiana Community Foundation
  • Sara Piner, Assistant VP, Philanthropic Advancement, Foundation for the Carolinas