Getting Started in Family Philanthropy

As a philanthropic individual or family, it all starts with you. Depending on your vision and goals, you have many choices available to you for establishing a family philanthropy. To help you think through this process, we offer the following suggestions and tools:

  • Think about what sort of impact you wish to have on the community and then write down your goals and objectives. Ask yourself, “What do I wish to accomplish with my philanthropy?”
  • To learn more about charitable vehicles,  use the Family Giving Considerations Worksheet and Getting Started Vehicle Comparison Chart.
  • If you wish to raise charitable children, but you aren’t ready to set up a formal giving structure, see our resources on Engaging the Next Generation.
  • For guidance on specific questions you may have as you establish your foundation, contact a member of our staff or check out our Ask the Center collection.

As you move forward, discuss your plans with family members so they are engaged from the outset. You’ll contribute to society in ways few ever experience while forming family bonds, based on a common purpose, that endure for generations. As one of our favorite family philanthropists once said:

“Starting a family foundation isn’t rocket science.”
– Jaylee Mead (1929 – 2012), Research Astronomer, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Co-Founder, Gilbert and Jaylee Mead Family Foundation

Contributions

Core Values of a Splendid Legacy

Posted on September 22, 2020 by Sarah Cavanaugh

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… Read More

Balancing Purpose, Payout, and Permanence

Posted on August 14, 2020 by Peter F. Bird, Jr., Liz Sak, George Suttles, Nicholas A. Tedesco, Tony Macklin

“How much should we spend?” It’s an essential question for all funders, and an especially complex one for endowed private foundations. The answer of “around 5%” was never universal as foundations sought creative means of ensuring that assets would serve mission rather than the other way around. In recent times, the pressure to revisit payout has increased. Endowed foundations have… Read More

Leading with Love and Gratitude: The David Rockefeller Fund at 30

Posted on August 4, 2020 by David Rockefeller Fund

The David Rockefeller Fund charts its history with a fascinating look into the evolution of the family and its philanthropy. The Fund’s history reflects the fact that change is inevitable and necessary, but must be rooted in the values and legacy of the family. The family’s recognition of this positions them for long-term success, encouraging them to remain flexible and… Read More

The Future of Family Philanthropy: Positioning Families for Greatness

Posted on July 23, 2020 by Nicholas A. Tedesco

winding road_path_journey_future
Philanthropic families are expanding their impact, knowledge of the field, and becoming increasingly sophisticated in their giving. There is further demand for philanthropic guidance and resources as donors and their families leverage multiple philanthropic vehicles, engage the next generation, and look to increase their payout rates or even spend down. NCFP President and CEO Nick Tedesco has spent the last… Read More

Families Funding Advocacy and Policy Change

Posted on July 17, 2020 by Julie Fernandes, Sara Watson, David Addams

Hands in air_protesting_advocacy
Advocacy is an important tool for funders seeking to address systemic inequalities ingrained in our policies and practices, and it can be the sole focus of an organization or an additional strategy employed to create lasting change. Many families pursue advocacy because of a founder’s interest or legacy, while others have introduced advocacy into their grantmaking portfolio after listening to… Read More

Moving Towards Social Justice Philanthropy: One Family Foundation’s Journey, Challenges, and Lessons

Posted on June 18, 2020 by Kelly Nowlin

NCFP board member and Fellow Kelly Nowlin spoke on a webinar hosted by Philanthropy Massachusetts and the Social Innovation Forum.   Five generations after being established, the Surdna Foundation has been intentional about honoring founding vision and legacy, while remaining relevant to current needs and issues in society. In 2009, the family trustees took a bold step in naming social justice in… Read More

Supporting Youth and Next-gen Philanthropy: How to Get Started

Posted on May 28, 2020 by Vasser Seydel, Kimberly Myers Hewlett, Sammie Holzwarth

Durfee Foundation next-gen board meeting
Multigenerational families use different methods and techniques to teach the next generation about philanthropy. Successful future engagement depends on many considerations, including when and how to best inspire and empower next-gen family members. Please join us for a discussion that will explore a number of important considerations, including when, and how to introduce the concept of giving to your family,… Read More

Community Foundation Business Models for Family Philanthropy (Round 4)

Posted on May 19, 2020 by Debbie Wilkerson, Bob Fockler, Caroline Kuebler, Whitney Hosty, Tony Macklin

This is NCFP’s fourth annual deep dive into how community foundations structure their business models for more intensive services to multi-generation and multi-branch families. Two foundations will serve as case studies, describing how they defined their customer segments, developed their portfolio of programs and services, worked with their board to set goals and success measures, refined their financial model for expanded services, engage advisors, and more. Their presentations will be… Read More

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