In the weeks leading up to Martin Luther King’s birthday, we’ve been thinking a lot about the important role of diversity in family giving.

The National Center’s Board chair, Caroline Avery of the Durfee Foundation, writes in this month’s issue about the new face of philanthropic donors, many of whom we hope to see at the 2012 Family Philanthropy Conference in Miami next month. We’re also pleased to have just confirmed former NCFP board member and Rockefeller Philanthropy Associates VP Judy Belk to lead a special Family Philanthropy Teleconference on “Diverse Voices in Family Giving” on April 12th.

During our teleconference last week on “Finding Common Ground, Valuing Different Views,” we were again reminded that diversity applies to viewpoints as well as ethnic origin. This was reinforced in the frank discussions of the four speakers (Bobbi Hapgood & Chris Renner of the Educational Foundation of America and Tony Macklin & Terry Hunt of the Roy A. Hunt Foundation) who revealed the very concrete policies and tools their foundations use to productively and civilly bridge ideological divides on their boards, even when confronted with thorny funding decisions on issues like global warming and reproductive rights. Members of our Friends of the Family program and FP Online Subscribers can still profit from their insights available in the FP Online Knowledge Center Teleconference Archives by audiotape and transcript.

The Finding Common Ground call also emphasized the importance of clearly understood ground rules for board member engagement. Perhaps only one obligation is more fundamental than one’s conduct with fellow board members: a precise understanding of the duties and responsibilities of a foundation board member. To that end, the National Center is offering Governance Essentials on March 22 – 24 in Washington, DC.

Governance Essentials is a comprehensive introduction to all of the key legal, investment, grantmaking, governance and family dynamics issues facing family foundation board members. This 3-day seminar is open to all new and prospective family foundation trustees, as well as more experienced board members who never received a full scale orientation on these issues, or who may want a refresher.

For your convenience, Governance Essentials follows on the heels of the Council on Foundations’ Foundations on the Hill. You also may wish to consider combining trips and enjoying our nation’s capital – the event takes place during the (free) Centennial Cherry Blossom Festival!

Finally, lest we forget the hard-working staff of family foundations, we’re currently gearing up to present our much-anticipated CEO retreat at the Council on Foundations’ mid-February Family Philanthropy Conference in Miami. We’re looking forward to seeing our many and diverse constituents there – foundation board and staff members, philanthropic advisors, and colleagues from other philanthropic associations. Only a few seats remain for the retreat, so make your plans today.

Happy New Year and thanks as always for your interest and commitment to this work!

Karen Green
Vice President, National Center for Family Philanthropy