Family Philanthropy Playbook for Community Foundations

Unit 4: Philanthropic Planning

Community foundations can help generous families discern and refine their values, principles, vision, interest areas, goals, and more. Some provide off-the-shelf materials for donors to use, some provide customized templates to discuss with staff, and others provide workshops.

READ (90+ minutes)

These free resources are easy starting points for families to use on their own or in conversation with community foundation staff.

  • Donor Legacy Statements, Values Statements, and Ethical Wills: this blog post compares the options for each of these types of legacy statements and provides examples and links.
  • Giving Together: A Workbook for Family Philanthropy (The Philanthropic Initiative): 15 worksheets to help answer key questions about family members to be involved, decision-making models, shared values, giving history, guiding principles, grantmaking criteria, and more.
  • Your Philanthropy Roadmap (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors): 5 key questions for shaping individual and family giving, and a good start for a family discussion. The roadmap is part of a free, growing set of short guides that help donor couples and families answer basic questions about everything from engaging younger generations to finding focus and strategy in giving, and from planning major gifts to assessing impact.

DO (60 minutes): Role Play: Developing Family Goals [members only]

This role play exercise helps you practice your first discussion with a couple about their family philanthropy goals. It requires two people to act as the couple and a third to act as the community foundation staff member assigned to work with them.

BORROW AND ADAPT (60 minutes): Co-Branded Issue Briefs

This special collection of issue briefs have been designed so that community foundations in NCFP’s Community Foundations Family Philanthropy Network may co-brand for distribution to their donors and fund advisors. To do so, please contact NCFP at for options. The briefs answer common questions of generous people with donor-advised funds, supporting organizations, and similar tools: Transitions in Family Philanthropy; Managing Family Dynamics; Engaging the Next Generation; and Family Governance and Family Philanthropy.

BORROW AND ADAPT (90+ minutes): Philanthropic Planning Tools [members only]

Community foundations in Atlanta, Calgary, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Silicon Valley shared their customized tools for developing vision statements, assessing goals and interest areas, creating giving plans, and more. The Philanthropic Initiative also provided an example process for creating a philanthropy plan and other tools.

BORROW AND ADAPT (5 minutes): Grant Portfolio Review Tools

In this folder, community foundations in Atlanta, Houston, Kansas City, and Oregon shared examples of how they guide donor families in their grantmaking and portray their giving and grantmaking history.

TUNE-IN (55 minutes): Spark Session—Role of Community in Family Philanthropy Values, Mission, and Strategy [members only]

In this 2015 webinar, staff of The Pittsburgh Foundation and Seattle Foundation outline how they work with family donors to clarify their values and motivations, shape their philanthropic strategy, and identify their philanthropic objectives—in a way that supports the community and place-based efforts. They are examples of more sophisticated sets of services.

TUNE-IN (59 minutes): Legacy Planning as a Part of Family Philanthropy [members only]

How do community foundations consider and offer legacy planning as an option for families in their philanthropy? In this March 2020 topical call, staff from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the Chester County Community Foundation, and the Central New York Community Foundation shared their legacy planning work.

TUNE-IN (50 minutes): Discussing Strategic Lifespans with Donors [fourth video, members only]

In this 2021 workshop breakout session, NCFP VP of Programs Jason Born shared lessons from NCFP’s multi-year learning network on strategic lifespans (e.g., thoughtfully weighing options of perpetuity vs. time-limited funds and foundations). Also see the second worksheet in the Succession and Legacy Primer and many resources in the Strategic Lifespans and Limited Life Foundations collection, Giving While Living: Profiles of Donors and Families collection.

TUNE-IN (71 minutes): Topical Call—Using the Family Giving Lifecycle Toolkit [members only]

NCFP’s Family Giving Lifecycle Toolkit gives donors—and you as their advisor—tools to lead a lifetime of purposeful, meaningful, and effective philanthropy. In this interactive call, NCPF President & CEO Nick Tedesco and Program Consultant Tony Macklin provided an overview of the toolkit and discussed how community foundations could adapt it in their services for donors and fundholders.