Alice Buhl served as Senior Fellow to the National Center for Family Philanthropy from 2004 to 2019. She was a founding board member of the National Center for Family Philanthropy and led the development of the “Pursuit of Excellence” assessment process. She also is a frequent contributor to National Center publications.

Alice is a Senior Consultant for Lansberg, Gersick & Associates and has extensive experience in philanthropy and nonprofit management. Born and raised outside Chicago, she earned her MBA from Washington University (St. Louis). Alice has served as executive director of the Conference on Education and of the Metropolitan Association for Philanthropy in St. Louis, and senior vice president of the Council on Foundations in Washington, DC. Since 1990, Alice has been a consultant in philanthropy to many American and Canadian family foundations and prominent private foundations, specializing in assisting families as they manage critical challenges affecting their grantmaking. Alice and her husband live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


Ask the Center

Who Takes the Lead?

Posted on March 15, 2012 by Alice Buhl

Our foundation’s board of directors is preparing to hire a new CEO to replace our retiring CEO, who has been with the family for nearly 20 years. As we talk with applicants, what are the most important topics we should discuss in terms of appropriate board and staff roles? In the transition between CEOs, Boards should discuss specific leadership roles… Read More

A Letter to Seniors (and will be seniors): Planning for Your Future in Philanthropy

Posted on September 13, 2011 by Alice Buhl

Their stories are fascinating reminders of the many philanthropic paths available, whatever your age. Their stories fall into four categories of approaches to how they planned their own as well as their family’s philanthropic futures: senior generation members who chose to stay actively involved in leading the family’s foundation. seniors who passed on leadership but stayed active in the foundation… Read More
Featured Article

CEO Transitions in Family Foundations

Posted on December 15, 2010 by Alice Buhl

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 family foundations typically have three major stages: clarifying the foundation… Read More
Voices from the Field

On the Phone With… Alice Buhl

Posted on October 25, 2010 by Alice Buhl

Welcome to the October edition of “On the Phone With…,” our series of interviews with leading family foundations and philanthropy experts from around the country. This month we’re on the phone with Alice Buhl. In this interview, Alice discusses the “Spectrum of Family Involvement” for family foundations and funds, and why she feels this is an important concept for families… Read More
Featured Article

Family Involvement: The Spectrum of Options

Posted on October 15, 2010 by Alice Buhl

Kelin Gersick’s book, Generations of Giving: Leadership and Continuity in Family Foundations, outlines the patterns most often seen in family philanthropy. In the first generation the donor has the strongest involvement and control. In the second generation more family members become involved and by the third and fourth generation, staff is often a key part of the picture. Gersick calls… Read More

Emeritus Board Members: Curse or Blessing?

Posted on August 24, 2010 by Alice Buhl

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 been controlling things for years but the next generation wants… Read More
Featured Article

Family Philanthropy or Family Foundation Philanthropy?

Posted on October 15, 2009 by Alice Buhl

Alice Buhl, Senior Fellow here at the National Center and Senior Associate at Lansberg, Gersick & Associates, joins Family Giving News with the third of a series of occasional columns on issues in philanthropy. When I first began working with families, I was often fairly oblivious to the many ways that families were engaging in philanthropy beyond their foundation. Now,… Read More

Pursuit of Excellence: A 2009 Report on Practices in Family Foundations

Posted on September 28, 2009 by Susan Crites Price, Alice Buhl

The research findings provide benchmarking information to help foundations assess their own practices with those of their peers. This work is part of the National Center’s Pursuit of Excellence initiative to provide family foundations with data and an assessment process to help them raise their own levels of performance. Pursuit of Excellence enables family foundations to see themselves in terms of common practice as well as in light of standards of excellence articulated by leaders in the field… Read More
Featured Article

Governance as Leadership in Tough Times

Posted on April 15, 2009 by Alice Buhl

For many foundations, establishing the payout level has become fairly perfunctory. The staff or accountants do the math and the foundation pays out the 5% required by law. However, I have worked with foundations that struggle to balance their desires to solve the problems of today and to protect assets for the future. In family foundations the payout decision has… Read More