Generosity In Action.. Exploring Philanthropy’s Impact

At its best, philanthropy provides an opportunity for family members to come together and identify shared passions and values, work collaboratively to achieve important social change, and leave a family legacy that extends beyond an operating business or investment portfolio.

Yet, the reality of family philanthropy is often more complicated. For maximum impact—in the world and for the family—it must be approached with the same thoughtfulness and rigor that drives a family enterprise. At the same time, family philanthropy also presents some unique challenges. The limitless possibilities afforded by private philanthropy, coupled with the challenges of measuring results in the social sector, means that there can be different—and at times competing—visions for the family’s philanthropy.

Families often first confront these dilemmas with the withdrawal or death of the founding donor or when they hit common inflection points along their journey, such as generational transitions, fluctuations in assets, and leadership changes. When productively addressed, these periods of transition offer families an opportunity to reflect and coalesce around a shared vision for their philanthropy, ensuring its healthy continuity. But when families are ill-prepared and ill-equipped to face these transitions, they can be destabilizing and surface unproductive dynamics.

Our Solutions

Through our research and advisory work over the last years, we have learned that effective family philanthropy—generating positive family experiences and high-impact giving—requires a shared philanthropic vision. Consequently, we help families first define the purpose for their philanthropy, then create the structures, practices, and programs necessary to achieve it.

Our Support For Philanthropic Families Includes:

  • Creating or redesigning family philanthropies, which include private foundations, funds, and giving programs.

  • Clarifying a shared purpose, and values to guide the family’s philanthropy, and the resultant programmatic, governance and operating goals.

  • Helping families determine the right governance model and supporting its implementation (e.g., policy and practice development).

  • Helping families determine the right governance model and supporting its implementation (e.g., policy and practice development).

  • Helping families manage interdependencies among different parts of the family enterprise: the foundation, operating businesses, family offices, and other collaborative efforts.

  • Designing efforts to educate, involve, and transition leadership to the next generation.

  • Facilitating more productive relationships between family members and professional staff.