Transitions in Family Philanthropy

About this collection: This Content Collection encourages you to view upcoming transitions as an opportunity – to learn from where you’ve been, to envision a future built on that past, and to establish systems and practices that allow you to fulfill all the potential you can imagine. It’s the gift of family philanthropy – legacy and promise.

Many families put off preparing for a transition until it is upon them. Fear of the day a key family member and leader will no longer be able to participate is a common explanation for why families don’t address critical preparation for a leadership transition.

This Content Collection encourages you to view upcoming transitions as an opportunity – to learn from where you’ve been, to envision a future built on that past, and to establish systems and practices that allow you to fulfill all the potential you can imagine. It’s the gift of family philanthropy—legacy and promise.

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Having new eyes: Transitions in family philanthropy

For more than two years, I have been researching, interviewing, and thinking about transitions in the life of a family philanthropy. I’ve listened to anyone willing to talk to me about their experiences with philanthropic transitions. I have learned a great deal about the nature of each transition. Similarly, I’ve…

Family Philanthropy Transitions: Possibilities, Problems and Potential

Passages Issue Briefs
Even if your family foundation or fund is very new, chances are you have already experienced at least one transition in the lifecycle of your giving program. What have been the keep turning points in the life of your fund from the founders' initial concept to the present? Which transitions…

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…

Profiles of Families

A Legacy Lives On: The Kaplan Family Foundation’s Successful Leadership Transition

Passages Issue Briefs
[Photo: Members of the next generation of the Kaplan family gather to discuss strategy.] Ask any family member and they are usually able to identify the current family leader. This is the person around whom everyone gathers; the person who takes responsibility for family networking, intervenes in family disputes, reminds…

Next generation leadership: Exploring transition at the Andrus Family Fund

How to involve a family that size was daunting enough, but the trustees faced another hurdle. Historically, the seats on the family boards had been filled by a handful of family members from a few family branches. The fourth-generation wanted to have a more democratic selection process, but could they…

NCFP Webinars

June 12, 2014

Navigating Leadership Transitions in Family Philanthropy

Every family philanthropy experiences the joy, the sadness, the complexity, and the energy of transitions. Moving toward new leadership in the family can be difficult, emotional, and sometimes frustrating. However, when it is done deliberately and thoughtfully, these times of transition can also be positive for all involved. Times of…
September 11, 2014

Generational Transitions: The Never-ending Story

If you are connected to a multi-generational family foundation, you likely have discovered that transitions are not a one-time event; rather, they are an ongoing and evolving fact of life. Whether transitioning from the donor to the 2nd generation, 2nd to 3rd, or beyond, there are common lessons and experiences…
July 9, 2009

Who’s Up Next? Planning for Leadership Succession

Continuity for a family foundation requires engagement of the next generation, integration of new board members, and a successful transition to new family philanthropy leaders. Do you have a plan for who’s up next in your family’s philanthropy? Have you even decided who is included in the pool (spouses, step-children,…

Additional Reading

Passing the Baton: Sharing Leadership Among Generations

After considering the factors that shape succession decisions and sharing important lessons from the family business world, Alice Buhl introduces the creative possibilities of shared leadership as well as tips for both senior and next generation members.

In Times of Growth: Planning for an Influx of Assets

Passages Issue Briefs
An influx of assets is a powerful transition point in your philanthropy. With rising resources comes the budding potential to do more of what you’re already doing—or, perhaps, try something new. This Passages Issue Brief will help you plan now for growth tomorrow, and manage change if you’re in the…

CEO Transitions in Family Foundations

Among the most important tasks that any board confronts is the choice of head staff person. If anything, this decision has even greater significance in family foundations. Whether the position is vacant because of the retirement of a beloved CEO or the departure of a problematic one, CEO transitions in…

Emeritus Board Members: Curse or Blessing?

Ask the Center
Mom and Dad are aging but we want to keep them involved.  Aunt Sally has been running the foundation forever but the other board members feel it is time for someone else to take over.  Uncle John is beginning to get confused.  The three sisters in the second generation have…

Death, Legacy, and Leadership Transition

Passages Issue Briefs
The death of a foundation leader or senior family member is likely the most emotional change a foundation will undergo. Suddenly, or not so suddenly, family members and the board face grief and loss, and also an onslaught of financial, legal, and organizational issues. How can you plan ahead, as…