Philanthropic Purpose

Defining Your Motivations, Values, Principles, and Priorities

Why do you and your family want to give?

Your answers will illuminate your identity, passion, and desired legacy—and uncover your shared philanthropic purpose.

While it can be difficult to pinpoint with so many challenges facing communities around the world and all the worthy causes to support, defining and articulating a clear philanthropic purpose should be your north star.

Consider the following questions:

  • What do you care about most?
  • What interests and truly inspires you?
  • What would you most like to change in the world?

Designed to help take stock of your values and understand the passions and experiences that have shaped your family, this primer and the following content offer clarity and direction.

Always start with why. Then you’re ready for what’s next.

Download the Philanthropic Purpose Primer

Featured Resources

VIDEO | July 17, 2023

Navigating Family Philanthropy: Philanthropic Purpose

This video will address the four elements of philanthropic purpose. We recommend downloading the guide to get a deeper dive into each element, including activities and questions to spark your thinking.

TOOL | October 19, 2020

Finding Your Focus

To develop focus areas and set a budget, consider your motivations, values, risk tolerance, and interests. The first step toward effective philanthropy is to decide on your particular interests, or focus areas. This chapter helps you consider the following questions: Why should I have philanthropic focus areas? What motivates me to give? How do I align my values with my

BOOK CHAPTER | September 22, 2020

Core Values of a Splendid Legacy

Values build and strengthen a legacy in families. This chapter from Splendid Legacy 2: The Guide to Creating and Re-creating Your Family Foundation shares ideas to get you started with your foundation’s values, or revisit the ones that you have now as part of your own family legacy.

PASSAGES ISSUE BRIEFS | November 29, 2016

Things We Wish Our Founders Had Told Us: Interpreting Donor Legacy

This special NCFP Distinguished Fellow Essay by Susan Packard Orr explores the questions that Susan and her fellow trustees wished they had asked of the founders when they were still alive. From the introduction: This year marks the 20th anniversary of our father’s death. Our mother has been gone almost 30 years. During this time, we have worked to build

REPORT | September 24, 2016

Giving Together: A Workbook for Family Philanthropy

The exercises in this workbook are based on The Philanthropic Initiative’s experience working with hundreds of family philanthropies over TPI’s 20 years of philanthropic consulting. Every family brings its own unique culture, goals, and strengths to the journey of creating a family philanthropic enterprise. The resulting governance structures, funding approaches, and operating models are nearly as varied as the families

BOOK CHAPTER | September 21, 2017

Goals and Mission: Chapter 2 of “Splendid Legacy 2: Creating and Re-Creating Your Family Foundation”

This resource is an excerpt of Chapter 2 from “Splendid Legacy 2: Creating and Re-creating Your Family Foundation”.

View resource library

Featured Collections

November 17, 2017

Getting Started

January 28, 2021

Values and Motivations

View all philanthropic purpose collections