Blending and Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities: Tinkering Family Fund

Will Tinkering, chair of the North Carolina-focused foundation established by his father, is joined on the board by his two daughters and son-in-law, all residing in Asheville, and by his brother Rob and Rob’s three adult children, all of whom live in the Midwest. Interested in learning about the board, newly hired Executive Director Karen Carlyle begins to notice that grants decisions have been made in advance of board meetings and that they are ratified without substantive discussion.

Effective intra-board and board-staff relationships require shared decision making that can run counter to a family’s established authority structure. Separating the workings of the foundation from the family relationships is often difficult, but possible.