Generations of Giving

About this collection: Based upon a study of foundations in the United States and Canada that have survived through at least two generations, the authors ask probing questions, including: Why were these foundations started? How did the families of the founders come to be involved? And how did they organize themselves to do their work from year to year, decade to decade?

Using detailed and comprehensive analysis, Generations of Giving: Leadership and Continuity in Family Foundations examines continuity and leadership over time within family foundations. Based upon a study of foundations in the United States and Canada that have survived through at least two generations, the authors ask probing questions, including:

  • Why were these foundations started?
  • What did they look like at the beginning?
  • How did the families of the founders come to be involved?
  • And how did they organize themselves to do their work from year to year, decade to decade?

Although the foundations in the study are quite diverse in their goals and management, they have all had to confront and survive a common set of challenges. At the core of this volume is the study of two aspects of philanthropy: funding and volunteers—each essential to the survival of a foundation. This study is about the “why” and the “how” of these two crucial aspects.

Note: Selected excerpts from Generations of Giving are available to all NCFP visitors below. PDFs of the complete books is available exclusively to current Friends and members of one of our Partner Subscriber communities.


Order a hardcover or paperback copy of
Generations of Giving


Table of Contents: PDFs of All Chapters

Generations of Giving: Introduction

Book Chapter
This is the introduction for Generations of Giving: Leadership and Continuity in Family Foundations, the landmark 2006 study by a team of researchers led by Kelin Gersick and co-published by the National Center for Family Philanthropy. This introduction features the lead author’s proposition that the concept of “success” in family …

Generations of Giving: Transitions in Family Foundations

Book Chapter
This excerpt from the introduction for Generations of Giving: Leadership and Continuity in Family Foundations, explores the six components of transitions in a typical family foundation, introduced as follows: The overall time span of a transition may be a few months or several years, depending on the type of transition …