Expanding your comfort zone: A window into risk in family philanthropy

Tony Macklin

Philanthropy is often described as society’s “risk capital.” Our generosity can support causes and ideas that business and government agencies cannot or will not. We can use our resources to inspire new ideas, challenge existing thinking, or continue supporting an organization when others won’t. However, the idea of risk in philanthropy quickly muddies as we direct our generosity through a family foundation, donor-advised fund, or other collective effort. Our ideas about and tolerance for risk diverge, shaped by individual, family branch, professional, and other experiences.

In this Passages Issues Brief, you’ll learn how generous families can assess philanthropic risk, tame and mitigate risk, and even expand their comfort zone to
embrace uncertainty. The issue also should be helpful to other types of grantmaking committees and their staff members.


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