Voices from the Field Posts

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?

Expanding your comfort zone: Managing risk

Posted by John Bare on September 24, 2015

As I sit here writing about risk, the date at the bottom of my laptop screen – September 11 – is a jarring reminder that risk analysis is both futile and indispensable. It’s futile if we use risk analysis to predict the future. Or come to believe that the act of reflection itself inoculates us against harm. So goes the temptation: Now that we have completed this risk analysis, what could go wrong?

What funders should know in addressing the refugee crisis

Posted by Anna R. Hurt on September 24, 2015

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy hosted “The European Refugee Crisis: How Funders Can Help,” a webinar, on Sept. 15. Panelists were Bob Kitchen, International Rescue Committee; Shelly Pitterman, UNHCR; Ed Cain, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; and Michael Fields, Xylem Watermark. Panelists discussed how funders should approach the European refugee situation and the closely linked humanitarian crisis in Syria to include long-­‐term partnerships with nongovernmental organizations and targeted funding to root problems, such as development.

Leveraging social sector leadership: Opportunities for family philanthropy

Posted by Lori Bartczak and Nora Silver on September 24, 2015

While the connection between strong leadership and effective organizations may seem obvious, navigating the variety of ways grantmakers can support leadership can seem overwhelming. In GEO’s recent publication, Leveraging Social Sector Leadership, the authors present research that lifts up what social sector leaders say they need to be successful and how grantmakers can support those needs.

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