Family Identity and Culture

About this collection: This Content Collection features resources that discuss the importance of family culture and identity and highlight experiences of family foundations.

Many philanthropic families have a strong sense of identity, defined by their traditions and culture and carried out through their commitments to one another and the public trust. A clear family identity is driven by a shared purpose and philosophy, which in turn promotes a successful collective giving effort. How do families understand their shared purpose and ensure it faithfully guides them in their work? What is the role of the individual in relation to the collective? How does culture affect the approaches that families employ? Learn how families cultivate their philanthropic identity and nurture a family culture that reflects a shared sense of purpose.

Webinars

father, son, and grandfather skipping stones - traditions, generations, family cutlure
February 11, 2021

Family Identity and Culture

Many philanthropic families have a strong sense of identity, defined by their traditions and culture and carried out through their commitments to one another and the public trust. A clear family identity is driven by a shared purpose and philosophy, which in turn promotes a successful collective giving effort. How…
August 9, 2018

Cultivating A Healthy Family Culture

The health of a family is often defined by its culture. Creating connections, positive relationships, and a lifetime of closeness takes ongoing effort and reflection. The Andrus and Forbes families have for many years been thoughtful about traditions, systems, cycles, and family governance. Learn more about their stories in our…
May 14, 2015

Balancing Internal Vs. External Missions in Family Philanthropy

What is your family’s dream for philanthropy? Are you primarily interested in achieving a particular grantmaking mission? Or are you interested in creating an opportunity for family members to come together and strengthen family ties through philanthropy and service to others? For many philanthropic families, the answer to this question…
October 10, 2013

Creating a Culture of Learning for Your Family and Board

In the introduction to "Generations of Giving," NCFP's seminal study of multi-generational family philanthropy, lead author Kelin Gersick writes that "success in family philanthropy is measured in part by the family members' commitment to the foundation's work, the satisfaction they take in doing that work together, and the foundation's ability…

Required Reading

Takeaways Blog on Family Identity and Culture

Blog Post
Courtesy of RODNAE Productions from Pexels Many giving families have a strong sense of identity, defined by their relationships, traditions, and underlying values, and carried out through a shared purpose and approach to philanthropy. In NCFP’s recent webinar, “Family Culture and Identity” Senior Program Consultant Tony Macklin discussed what family…

Family Culture: Creating a Resilient Family Tree

Blog Post
Courtesy of Johannes Plenio from Pexels This blog post is excerpted from the Passages Issues Brief Family Culture: Creating a Resilient Family Tree. For more information about family culture, please register for our Family Identity and Culture Webinar on February 11, 2021. Family connectedness, not money, has the greatest influence on multi-generational family…
family silhouette at sunset

The Effects of Family Culture on Family Foundations

Blog Post
Yet it is exactly this—a characteristic way of thinking, feeling, judging, and acting—that defines a culture. In direct and subtle ways, children are molded by the family culture into which they are born. Growing up, their assumptions about what is right and wrong, good and bad, reflect the beliefs, values…

10 Habits of a Healthy Family Culture

Article
For many, living a rich life includes a rich family life that involves connection, sharing, closeness, and love. Yet achieving that is much easier said than done. How can we intentionally create a healthy family culture? What are some of its characteristics?

Thrive at Five: Families Sharing Stories

Article
If you are a newer family foundation with one or two generations on the board, five generations may seem like a long time away. Yet in family philanthropy, quite a few foundations have been operating and thriving, for 50, 75, even 100 years. What’s the secret of these family philanthropies…

The One Meeting You Need to Add to Your Calendar

Article
“It is vital to reaching my goals that my department at work meets regularly; it enables us to make sure everyone is on track, goals are being met, and morale is high.” Now, what if you swapped out the words “my department at work” for “my family”?

Case Study: The Lawrence Welk Family Foundation

Article
A few summers ago, the board of the Lawrence Welk Family Foundation issued a challenge to the fourth generation of Welk family members. They were told about a local shelter for homeless families which hosted a preschool and therapeutic learning center that needed a new air conditioner. It would cost…

Samples from Families

Notes on an Effective Family Culture: The Roy A. Hunt Foundation

Sample
This set of tips from the Board of the Roy A. Hunt Foundation was shared as a handout on NCFP’s January 2012 Teleconference, “Finding Common Ground, Valuing Different Views.” It is a useful set of tips for any family seeking to create a culture that respects differences of opinion and…

Additional Resources

The Source Codes of Foundation Culture (GEO, 2015)

Paying Attention to White Culture and Privilege: A Missing Link to Advancing Racial Equity (The Foundation Review, 2014)

Culture Resource Guide (GEO, 2018)

Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture (Equity in the Center, 2020)

Assess Your Organization’s Culture (The Bridgespan Group)

Understanding and Developing Organizational Culture (SHRM)

Pathways: Matching Estate Planning to Family Culture (Merrill, 2020)