Family Philanthropy Playbook for Community Foundations

Unit 5: Understanding Customers – Advice from Peers

What advice do your peers have for segmenting their audiences?

DO (90+ minutes): Tiered Services

Many community foundations tier their philanthropic services – differentiating services provided based on characteristics of the funds and donors involved. They’ve followed the lead of private banking offices and other professional service providers.

Criteria for creating tiers of services include: fund size, frequency of gifts to the foundation, having a planned gift in place, potential for future gifts, community connections and influence, degree of engagement with the foundation, the percentage of their grants that align with the foundation’s initiatives, and more. Many foundations will use three or four of these to identify the highest-value customers and offer the deepest services to those customers. In a 2014 training program, the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance offered an example Tiering Criteria List and a Fund Types and Tiered Donor Services example.

Some foundations are more fluid in how they work with customer segments, including the Rose Community Foundation

“As we got into this work, we found that not all of our larger funds were as interested in taking advantage of the [family philanthropy] services. And we found, with time, that some of our smaller funds were interested in engaging with us, and we had to really step back and decide ‘what did this look like from a fee structure? What did it mean for the lifecycle of our donors here?’. On an unofficial basis, we slowly stepped back a little bit from tiered services and started testing more direct individualized services to some of our smaller donors. We ultimately decided to look at donor families on a case-by-case basis and offer our services based upon family readiness. That meant an interest by the donors, by the primary fund holders, and also a willingness to devote the time to sit down and work as a family.”

– Anita Wesley, Rose Community Foundation, May 2016 “Staffing your Family Engagement Program” webinar

READ (15 minutes): Concierge Services Roundtable Notes

In October of 2017, staff from the Greater Atlanta Community Foundation and Hawaii Community Foundation led a roundtable discussion on delivering “concierge services”.

TUNE-IN (50minutes): Offering Customized Services for DAFs [second video, members only]

At the 2021 workshop, staff from the Minneapolis Foundation and Marin Community Foundation discussed their models for customized or concierge services for fundholders.


Marin The Family Office of Philanthropy_Strategic Advising Process

Marin Virtuoso – the modern alternative to a private foundation _ Marin Community Foundation

Marin Virtuoso-NFIS

Minneapolis Signature Fund Sample checkstock

Minneapolis Signature Fund Sample Letterhead

Minneapolis Signature-Fund

Seattle Foundation_PUBLIC_Giving with Impact – Short Preview Deck

TUNE-IN (60 minutes): Working with Enterprising Families Spark Session [members only]

In this 2018 webinar, staff from the Calgary Foundation and Arizona Community Foundation and experienced family enterprise consultant Mark Weber discuss their work at the intersections of family business, family philanthropy, family governance, and more. The website for Mark’s book, The Legacy Spectrum, also includes free workbook and other resources to use with business-owning families.

BORROW AND ADAPT: Family Business and Family Office Work [members only]

Community foundations in Arizona, Atlanta, Calgary, the Carolinas, and other geographies, along with national experts, have shared resources on working with family businesses and family offices.

TUNE-IN (75 minutes): Spark Session—Advising Business-Owning Families [members only]

Compared to non-entrepreneurs, business founders give and volunteer more, tend to see philanthropy as more important to their lives, and tend to ask more sophisticated philanthropic planning questions. In this 2021 webinar, speakers from Lansberg Gersick & Associates, Fidelity Charitable, and The Columbus Foundation discussed how community foundations can better support business-owning families’ philanthropic journeys.