The Principles of Effective Family Philanthropy

In philanthropy, meaningful change is the aim—it is the purpose and the promise. But in striving for and achieving impact, have we been effective? What exactly does it mean to “successfully achieve an intended result” or “fulfill a specified function?” Who decides the measures of success and what are the conditions that promote meaningful and enduring progress? What does it mean to be effective not just as funders, but as family philanthropies?

In partnership with Open Impact, NCFP has been exploring these questions and is pleased to share findings to help guide you in your practice. 

What is effective family philanthropy

Effective family philanthropy makes a collective commitment to meaningful societal change. It holds itself accountable to impact as defined by community, and to the proven practices that support it. It is adaptive, evolving with the family and the community or ecosystem within which it operates. It shares or cedes power with different family members and generations, as well as staff, communities and grantees. 

While family engagement should not be the purpose of effective family philanthropy, it is a critical part of the process of achieving effective family philanthropy.

Effective family philanthropy advances meaningful outcomes by embodying five core principles, which we’ll describe in detail in the following section. 

What are the principles of effective family philanthropy? 

  • Accountability
  • Equity
  • Relationships
  • Reflection and Learning

Stay tuned for the full research results.