Living the Legacy

About this collection: This special Content Collection shares chapters from NCFP's popular "Living the Legacy Journal," sharing perspectives and stories of families who have explored and adopted the practice of a living legacy across generations.

Living The Legacy: The Values of a Family’s Philanthropy Across Generations was released by the National Center for Family Philanthropy in 2001 to move the discussion of donor intent toward the more robust idea of a living, family legacy.

“Legacy is not a ‘dead hand’; it is, instead, a living, ‘helping hand’ that is entrusted to and guides succeeding generations of family trustees and foundation staff,” says Charles H. Hamilton, editor of Living the Legacy.

How do family foundations describe and pass on legacy over time and through generations? How is a donor’s intent interpreted, maintained, adapted, and carried out by succeeding generations of trustees and staff? How do children and grandchildren blend their interests and a changing world with the donor’s intentions, thereby creating a vital, ongoing philanthropy? These questions and many others are addressed by some of the most influential leaders in the field of family philanthropy.

For additional resources and guidance on capturing and passing on philanthropy legacy, see the NCFP Content Collection on Exploring Donor and Family Legacy.

Introduction

It’s important to attend to family foundation legacy or it will be forgotten. Stories and formal legacy statements preserve a ‘usable’ past while renewing values for the future.

Legacy: the Helping Hand of Family Philanthropy

Article
It's important to attend to family foundation legacy or it will be forgotten. Stories and formal legacy statements preserve a 'usable' past while renewing values for the future....Telling stories and preparing legacy statements are ways to help harness the "constant" in family philanthropy.

Section 1: Family Legacy

Questions to consider while reviewing this section include:

  • Which of the suggestions in “Family Values, Family Philanthropy” might be useful for you and your family?
  • Reflect upon the list of questions at the end of “Family Values, Family Philanthropy.” Which are appropriate to your situation? Which can you answer for yourself, and which might you want to talk over with other members of your family?
  • What implications do the essays by Bill Graustein, John Marshall, Anne Dyson, and Charles Rooks have for a donor? How can you best leave a trail of actions, writings, recorded (and unrecorded) conversations, and other evidence regarding your hopes and dreams for the world and for your philanthropy?
  • What cautions does the profile of the Alexander Foundation in “A Lost Opportunity” raise when thinking about the future of your philanthropy?

Family Values, Family Philanthropy

Book Chapter
How families inspire and shape values—particularly the value of giving— and how those are passed from one generation to another, are critical elements in ensuring a healthy charitable future.

From the Start: Questions for Donors and Family Members

Tool
Donors often seek effective ways to involve other family members from the start. Heirs, meanwhile, look for ways to appropriately honor the legacy of the donor(s). There are many questions and issues likely to be considered by both the donor and future generations. (Source: Living the Legacy: The Values …

Looking To The Future, Honoring the Past

Book Chapter
In 1996, the Nathan Cummings Foundation hired historian Deborah Gardner to write a short book about the foundation: A FAMILY FOUNDATION: Looking To The Future, Honoring the Past. According to Charles R. Halpern, the president and chief executive officer at the time: This report describes the challenges the Cummings family faced …

Learning from Each Other: The Dyson Foundation

Impact Story
Note: The following are excerpted from essays written by Anne E. Dyson, M.D. and Robert R. Dyson; they were originally published in the 1996 and 1997 annual reports for The Dyson Foundation and re-released in 2001 as part of NCFP’s Living the Legacy guide. Celebration of a Life: From the 1996 Report …

Honoring the Founder: The Meyer Memorial Trust

Impact Story
Note: This essay was written by Charles S. Rooks and originally published in the Meyer Memorial Trust Annual Report, 1994-1995); it was re-released in 2001 as part of NCFP’s Living the Legacy guide. The 1994-95 Fiscal year was the last one in which the Trust was governed by its original …

Section 2: Donor Legacy and Donor Intent

The second section in the volume focuses on the connections between donor legacy and donor intent. Questions to consider when reviewing this section include:

  • What lessons does the historical discussion of donor legacy present for current and future donors?
  • How specific do you wish your bylaws and/or statement of donor intent to be?
  • What implications might your statement have for involving—or excluding—future family members from active involvement in the family philanthropy?

Establishing Your Intent

Book Chapter
It is important to think about ways to educate new and existing board members to better understand your intent, values, and history of giving.

Section 3: Living the Legacy

The third section of this volume is devoted to Living the Legacy of a family’s philanthropy. Questions to consider when reviewing this section include:

  • What benefits might our Board have in engaging in a process of the type discussed in “An Introduction to Trustee Education for Family Foundations?”
  • How might you engage your family in a process of reflection such as those described

An Introduction to Trustee Education for Family Foundations

Impact Story
Note: This article was written and released in 2001 as part of NCFP’s Living the Legacy guide. A Rich Tradition of Service: Volunteer Leadership for The Public Good Americans have established a deep, rich tradition of volunteerism. From the Pilgrim’s Social Compact of 1620, which emphasized government based upon consent …

Reviewing Donor Legacy And Defining Future Directions: The Current Family Foundation

Article
Each and every foundation conducts its review of donor legacy differently, depending upon the unique characteristics of the family and the foundation. The Current Family Foundation recently went through a successful process of review highlighting the donors'legacy. It invigorated the foundation's programmatic grantmaking, and moved the board of family members-from …

Section 4: Stories from Families

The final section of the book shares several extended case studies of families who have sought to understand how legacy shapes their current and future practices. Questions to consider when reviewing this section include:

  • How do the family foundation stories described relate to the situations at your own foundation? Which of the lessons and suggestions provided by these examples might be instructive to other members of your family and Board?

Early Days: The Heisley Family Foundation

Impact Story
Note: This case study was written and released in 2001 as part of NCFP’s Living the Legacy guide; current circumstances at the foundation may be different than described here. With these goals in mind, Heisley, in December 1996, incorporated the Heisley Family Foundation, which he hoped would be “a vehicle which …

Honoring the Donor: The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Impact Story
Note: This case study was written and released in 2001 as part of NCFP’s Living the Legacy guide; current circumstances at the foundation may be different than described here. Conrad Hilton was an unusual family foundation founder. He set up a foundation in middle age and, although he lived for …

A Family Legacy of Individual Initiative: The McKnight Foundation

Impact Story
Note: This case study was written and released in 2001 as part of NCFP’s Living the Legacy guide; current circumstances at the foundation may be different than described here. McKnight was chairman of the 3M Company (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing). He was credited for developing the corporate culture that propelled …

The Rebirth of a Legacy: The Lydia B. Stokes Foundation

Impact Story
Note: This case study was written and released in 2001 as part of NCFP’s Living the Legacy guide; current circumstances at the foundation may be different than described here. Lydia B. Stokes was a woman of principles. Reared as a Presbyterian, she converted to Quakerism when she married. She and …

Change Within Tradition: The Hattie M. Strong Foundation

Impact Story
  Note: This case study was written and released in 2001 as part of NCFP’s Living the Legacy guide; current circumstances at the foundation may be different than described here. Yet, the evolution of this small, family-established foundation had occurred in an atmosphere which board members themselves considered traditional and …