Voices from the Field Posts

Walking the talk: Striving for authentic partnership with our grantees

Posted by Laura McCargar on February 23, 2016

In November, PFF Program Officer Laura McCargar joined Michael Moody of the Johnson Center for Family Philanthropy and NCFP Fellow and Board Member Katherine Lorenz of the George and Cynthia Mitchell Foundation at the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference in Houston, Texas to talk about collaboration in the context of family philanthropy.

Five essential practices to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion at your family foundation

Posted by Audrey Haberman and Sindhu Knotz on February 16, 2016

Last October, we had the pleasure of hosting a conversation with a group of ten family foundations attending the National Forum on Family Philanthropy in Seattle. The session was focused on how foundation leaders can begin to address the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) with your staff and trustees. Through storytelling about successes, and a discussion about mistakes and anxieties related to DEI, the group identified five essential practices any family foundation should consider to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Good governance: How should family foundation boards spend their time?

Posted by Phillip Henderson on February 9, 2016

Checks landing in the mailboxes of nonprofit organizations with foundation return ad-dresses have long been considered philanthropy’s most important currency. Reflecting that view, family foundations have tended to focus their operations, self-image, and their very reasons for being on getting the dollars out the door...Lurking behind that 90 percent, though, is another story—it’s the natural tendency to conflate family governance of a foundation and strategic control of its mission with control of the grantmaking function.

I am Family Philanthropy: Katherine Lorenz

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on February 2, 2016

Katherine Lorenz, President of the The Cynthia & George Mitchell Family Foundation and NCFP Fellow and board member, reflects on how philanthropy has brought together multiple generations of her family. Katherine shares how the Cook's Branch Conservancy in Piney Woods, TX promotes local and regional conservation ethics and demonstrates the resilience of nature in perpetuity.

Rethinking the funding equation: Can general operating support become the new normal?

Posted by Jen Teunon on January 26, 2016

If every funder only pays for a specific program or a specific line item, an organization becomes fragmented and unstable. Without general operating support, an organization doesn’t have the money for staffing, rent, technology, training, or even the phone bill. And, without a strong infrastructure, programs that improve our communities can’t happen.

The Market Ride: Implications for funders and their grantees

Posted by Richard Marker on January 21, 2016

The recent downturn in the stock market has raised concerns among many in the family foundation world. To help put the recent decline in perspective, we offer the following guest post from Richard Marker, co-principal of Wise Philanthropy, offering important lessons from past wild swings for those who work in the foundation world.

The 5 Dysfunctions of Philanthropy

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly on January 6, 2016

In 2002, Patrick Lencioni wrote a book called, "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team." It explains the interpersonal aspects of teambuilding in a professional setting and how they undermine success. Although Lencioni’s team is in a fictional company, his lessons also are entirely relevant to grantmakers. We're pleased to share this recent blog post from NCFP Content Partner Putnam Consulting Group on five common dysfunctions that can affect philanthropy generally - and family philanthropy specifically.

My sabbatical zen: Reflections on a 3-month pause in the action

Posted by Patrick Troska on December 1, 2015

Patrick Troska, Executive Director of the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation, reflects on the four "R"'s of his recent sabbatical: resting, roving, reflecting, and recharging. "It is important to acknowledge that nothing fell apart at the Foundation while I was away," writes Troska. I credit that to good planning and an extraordinarily good team. The sabbatical provided the opportunity for the Foundation to consider its succession planning needs (I won’t be here forever and everyone is replaceable)."

The Stifler Family Foundation shares their story at the National Forum on Family Philanthropy

Posted on October 28, 2015

On October 14, 2015 at the National Forum on Family Philanthropy in Seattle, WA, Larry Stifler and Mary McFadden, founders of the Stifler Family Foundation, reflect on how their past opportunities influenced their generous giving now. Listen to their story here and follow the National Center for Family Philanthropy on StoryCorps.me.

The best mistake we ever made: Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation

Posted by Kathleen Odne , Karen Green and Jenifer Getz on October 28, 2015

A sure-fire indicator that we all make mistakes was the capacity crowd at the National Forum on Family Philanthropy workshop in Seattle entitled, “The Best Mistakes We Ever Made.” Using a rapid-fire format, each of ten speakers took three minutes to share a mistake they made in their family philanthropy experience. To set the context, each speaker explained the goal and framework by responding to, “What were you trying to do”? Next they explained, “What happened that was unexpected – in other words, what went wrong?” Finally, and most importantly, we asked the mistake-makers to share, “What did you learn from your mistake?” In other words, how did the foundation changes its practices as a result?

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