Archive for the ‘Family Philanthropy’ Category

It’s no accident that the Council on Foundations 2013 Family Philanthropy Conference takes place this week in Silicon Valley. This is Ground Zero for technological innovation. Ideas birthed here have changed—and continue to change—the world.
Silicon Valley has been the workshop of some brilliant entrepreneurs. People like Steve Jobs, William Hewlett, David Packard, eBay founder Pierre [...]

Blessed are the family foundations graced with harmonious board interaction, for they may be focused on their grantmaking. Running through case studies in preparation for our session at this month’s Council on Foundations Family Philanthropy Conference in San Jose, I am struck by the power of a grantmaking program rooted in community ties, family values, [...]

Despite having a steady job, a mom in South Carolina, who hopes to help her daughter go to college, cannot afford to pay rent in the city in which she works. A promising entrepreneur in Wisconsin has a great idea to improve his community but cannot get the loan needed to get his business off [...]

What does Jeremy Lin have to do with the future of philanthropy?

When LINsanity comes to philanthropy from The Nathan Cummings Foundation on Vimeo.

I got some insight into that question recently when I joined Ruth Cummings and Jaimie Mayer Phinney, both trustees of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, at the Council on Foundation’s Family Philanthropy Conference. Ruth [...]

Ambassador. Facilitator. Strategist. What do these words have in common? They are among the many roles played by family foundation CEOs during their day-to-day work as funders. At the recent Council on Foundations’ Family Foundations Conference in Miami Beach, the National Center for Family Philanthropy used GrantCraft’s Roles@Work deck to kick off their CEO retreat. These [...]

I just returned from the Council on Foundations Family Philanthropy Conference in Miami, a three-day event focused on education, the arts, impact investing, advocacy and family dynamics. Amidst all of that great discussion, I was struck again by the importance of communicating family legacy.
A family’s beliefs, behaviors and messages are carried down through generations, [...]

I had the privilege this week to join my first Council on Foundations Family Philanthropy Conference. It was a remarkable gathering of some 600 philanthropic leaders and advisers from across the U.S. and international Foundations. The program and various highlights are detailed on the conference website.
As a newcomer to the [...]

I had the pleasure of presenting as part of a panel on social media at the Council on Foundations’ Family Philanthropy Conference in Miami. The session, “Tools of Engagement: Family Dynamics and Social Networking,” covered social networking as a critical piece of a foundation’s communications strategy.
Joining me on the panel were speaker and consultant [...]

Same-sex spouses, life partners, adopted children, second marriages, religious conservatives, political liberals. Today’s families are increasingly diverse and families with foundations are no exception. The changing nature of your family may be creating challenges to harmonious and effective governance. Fortunately, the experience of other foundations is a laboratory of solutions.
If you attended the Council on Foundations [...]

This past week marked my first experience attending the national Council on Foundation’s annual Family Philanthropy Conference. I found myself wearing multiple hats-representing the Council on Foundations as a board member, as well as SWIF, our region and our donors. I found the many conversations and connections I’ve had this week to be incredibly valuable for [...]

I had the pleasure of spending the past four days in Miami Beach at the Council on Foundations’ annual Family Philanthropy Conference.
There was alot to experience there, but I’d have to say that — as usual at these kind of gatherings — the highlight was spending time with my fellow attendees.
The group was a great [...]

I used to question the value of conferences. They are expensive when you add up the flights, hotels, meals – Isn’t that money better spent on programmatic work that directly serves our grantees? As foundations we rightly and continually scrutinize our administrative expenses. We owe that to our donors and grantees.
Over [...]

One of the biggest topics in family philanthropy has to do with engaging the next generation. How do multi-generational family foundations find common ground amongst board members with very different worldviews and experiences? How do foundations ensure that the next generation becomes responsible stewards of their philanthropic assets? How does one [...]

In the last 24 hours, participants at the Family Philanthropy Conference were treated to a trifecta of inspiration.  Last night, a flamenco dancer romanced us, young classical musicians made our spirit soar, and an artist schooled in the traditions of Theater of the Oppressed moved some us to tears.
This morning, Ron Clark electrified a full [...]

Ron Clark has 55 rules for the kids that he teaches at his school in south Atlanta each day. These rules cover everything from how to enter a room with poise to bringing a water bottle to class to how to be a graceful winner.
You may not know him, but hundreds of family foundation representatives [...]

The first day of the Council on Foundations Family Philanthropy Conference is now officially in the books and one word seems to arise again and again in conversations and sessions: transparency. Nowhere was this topic more front and center than at the Council-sponsored session about social media. But allow me to digress for a moment [...]

Miami is wonderful. It’s also where the 2012 COF Family Philanthropy Conference is happening. Although we are only one day in, I can safely say that traveling from California was well worth it.
The setting is gorgeous of course, and I’ve been posting images of the harbor, the art deco buildings on my personal Facebook [...]

“…outside resources will be much more effectively used if the local community is itself fully mobilized and invested, and if it can define the agendas for which additional resources must be obtained.”
-”Building Communities from the Inside Out,” John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight, 1993.
I’ve been reflecting on how much my early training in community [...]

In the process of preparing for the Council Learning Lab on social media at the Family Philanthropy Conference, I came across some pretty interesting data: 14 percent of dog owners have created a Facebook account for their pet!  And 15 percent of these dogs have more than 100 friends - it gives a whole new [...]

If you’ve ever come to one of the Council’s wonderful conferences, you already know that connections happen in the elevators and spaces around the panels. It’s easy to get lost in the well-crafted, engaging panels and formalities of a conference, but real connections are made when there is space to breathe and let the ideas [...]

Coming into the Council’s Family Philanthropy Conference, I’m looking to follow two strains of curiosity. First, I want to see how other foundations have built collaborative community relationships that expand beyond traditional roles of grantor and grantees. More deeply, I’m curious about how foundations can maintain focus on a certain community as the board transitions [...]

I’m always excited for the Family Philanthropy Conference. The plenaries feature dynamic speakers who often offer a philanthropic perspective that I hadn’t considered before. There are so many interesting sessions, and so many interesting ideas to take in. I try to attend a session about something I’d likely not be able to explore any place [...]

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords from Arizona and Louis D. Brown, a young African-American man growing up in Dorchester, Mass., were both shot. Gifford’s shooter was white, mentally ill and “acted alone.” Louis’ killer was young, black, and possibly involved with a gang.
We must address the social context that makes either shooting possible! Our workshop at [...]

Most family foundations tend to conduct their grantmaking by continuing the discussion until everyone either agrees or at least agrees to commit to a decision. This approach can be time consuming, but rewarding.  What happens, though, when you can’t all agree? What do you do when one director is passionately in support of and another [...]

How do foundations make giving decisions? Hope Consulting and Guidestar have released the much-anticipated Money for Good II study (MFG II) to answer these questions.
Here is what they found about foundations-a category dominated by family foundations. Foundations research nine out of 10 grants to nonprofits for an average of four hours. Small family foundations with [...]

The world reverberates with crashing economies and toppling dictatorships from Detroit to Italy, Egypt to Syria; and one vital outcome of these changes is this: Everyday people know more about one another, feel connected through communication, and take action in the collective. The Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street have demonstrated that we–as a global [...]

The Council’s Family Philanthropy Conference is an opportunity for international philanthropists to meet and exchange experiences with peers from the U.S. and other countries. It is a place to learn with other participants representing other foundations and specialists in the field of philanthropy and family dynamics. It is a chance to get familiar with what’s new [...]

I know I am not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the state of the world and the incredible needs that philanthropy is trying to address. We can’t fulfill these on our own, so where do we start? Are we just providing short-term solutions when the whole system is breaking down? Grant requests are up, the [...]

In February, the Council on Foundations will bring together families from all over the country (and world!) to learn about and discuss the current issues affecting families who give. The 2012 Family Philanthropy Conference is not just for family foundations-it’s for all families committed to philanthropy.
At The Minneapolis Foundation, we work with more than 500 [...]

I am seven months into one of the most exciting opportunities of my life, which is also one of the greatest challenges of my life. Earlier this year, I became president of my family’s foundation, the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation. My 92-year-old grandfather is still very much in charge, and I have the unique [...]

I love the theme of the Family Philanthropy Conference (kudos to whoever came up with it). As we all know, philanthropy changes its mantra every so often. We’ve heard collaboration and partnership and community building. “Fusion” would be a great next trend.
As you head down to Miami Beach in February, what you may not know [...]

In America, the debate lumbers on about the best way to coordinate the philanthropic sector and the U.S. government. Meanwhile, one post-conflict West African country has jumped right in — the Liberia Philanthropy Secretariat is the fruit of collaboration between President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and private foundations. It is the world’s only national government office dedicated [...]

American families have many traditions that cross religious, social, economic, and cultural boundaries. Taking time in the latter part of the year to give thanks for all we have is one of the most prevalent. Thanksgiving is a time for food, of course, but also for family (no matter how it’s defined) to come together [...]

Growing up in a family of nine in the suburbs of America’s Heartland — Ohio — actually provided good training in strategic philanthropy and kept me rooted in cost efficiency as an adult. Now running a dynamic family foundation on a tiny budget, I am living the lessons of middle-class family budgeting. We leverage our [...]

We’re often asked why so many of our educational and microfinance programs invest more heavily in women than men . . .
. . . after all, we love the exuberant energy of boys and the gentle strength of men. In our family of 30 members across 3 generations, we do have a few more [...]

With the recent 104th anniversary of UPS (Aug. 28), I’ve been thinking about our founder, Jim Casey.  Jim taught us a lot.  His speeches and writings in the 1930s, 40s and 50s would make a best-selling business book if repackaged today.  Thomas Friedman…  Jim Collins…  Gary Hammel… all the other business gurus of today – Jim [...]

Parent: “What did you learn in school today?”
Johnny: “Nothing.”
Every parent knows how difficult it is to engage a child, particularly a teenager, in any type of conversation, never mind trying to start family conversations about philanthropy and charitable giving that inevitably lead to awkward glances at the dinner table. In my family, language and cultural [...]

Collaboration. That’s a word I’m starting to hear more and more from people creating positive change in communities. Since joining the Council’s Public-Philanthropic Partnership Initiative as a summer associate, I’ve read a lot about partnerships between government and philanthropy.
Hearing these partnership stories helps me understand the power of this cross-sector collaboration. For this reason, I’m [...]

This post originally appeared on the blog Philanthropy Writing: The Heart of Giving.
Why do we live in a world where it’s cheaper to buy Froot Loops than it is real fruit?
This is one of my favorite questions posed by Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA. For those of you who haven’t heard of Slow [...]

Nearly 900 million people (14 percent of the world’s population) do not have access to safe drinking water. And more than 2.5 billion people (38 percent of the world’s population) live without basic sanitation. Every year more than 3.4 million people worldwide die from diseases related to the lack of access to safe drinking water, [...]

For some parents, talking about wealth ranks right up there with the birds and the bees as important but dreaded conversations to have with your kids. This creates a significant challenge for philanthropic families, because you can’t talk about giving without bringing up wealth, inheritance, and financial responsibility.

Families are sacred, just as people are sacred. We war with them and worry over them and love them as best we can. This is the message we came to ponder in the cozy Manhattan home of Catherine Gellert, wrapped in hospitality, on the coldest of New York evenings. With his trademark grace, Charlie Collier, [...]

Simply put, we all want to be heard. Unfortunately, we don’t always know the best ways to communicate. During a discussion on the art of effective communication, which was part of the session, Next Generation Retreat for Family Members, it became clear that the Next Gen, though seated at the proverbial table, are struggling to [...]

Why is philanthropic support of the arts such a good idea?
Back in the 15th century, if you commissioned an altarpiece for your local church, your likeness was painted in at the scene of the Annunciation. We don’t have such incentives any more. So why support the arts?

Family philanthropists have a natural interest in helping other families—particularly the most vulnerable. In the preconference session at the 2011 Family Philanthropy Conference designed and led by Susan Price of the National Center for Family Philanthropy, 70 family foundation peers gathered to share strategies on the education, care, and literacy of children in their early [...]

When I was growing up, my family didn’t do conflict. I never remember my parents fighting or even raising their voices to each other. Having now been in a relationship for 17 years, I know there had to have been conflict, but my upbringing didn’t prepare me well.
Now imagine being a professional staff person [...]

With historic government and private sector budget cuts and extraordinary natural disasters worldwide, there is increasing demand for support from vulnerable communities and families.
These issues will be front and center at the Council on Foundations 2011 Family Philanthropy Conference January 23-25 in New York City. Hundreds of foundation CEOs, trustees, and leaders—along with innovators in [...]

Last week, the Council published the latest issue of our online journal, Thought > Action > Impact. This issue focuses on global philanthropy—a top priority for the Council. When we began researching the topic one thing became abundantly clear: We live in an interconnected world and, in the last two years alone, almost every community [...]

Recently, I blogged about Jeff Jarvis’ book, “What Would Google Do?” as it relates to our work at the Council. Jarvis stresses the power of networks and the importance of sharing information quickly. He points to Internet powerhouses like Facebook and Amazon that successfully connect people to one another, allowing them to share needs, knowledge, [...]

During the Council on Foundations’ Family Philanthropy Conference at the end of January in San Diego, we pulled together a concurrent session on disaster grantmaking in light of the earthquake in Haiti. There was a small but passionate group that attended. I walked away thinking about three things: our short attention span; our lack of [...]

A family foundation CEO that I know from Australia sent an email expressing regret that she had not been able to arrange her schedule to attend the Council’s Family Philanthropy Conference last week. She had hoped to talk with other families who are dealing with some of the same issues as her 50 year-old foundation.
Her [...]

Last week at the Council’s Family Philanthropy Conference in San Diego, I reported briefly on a discussion held as a “book club” conversation among foundation trustees and staff about the Jeff Jarvis book, “What Would Google Do?” In a small breakout group, I learned from Jessamyn Lau, program leader at the Peery Foundation in Palo [...]

The parable of a sudden and growing number of babies that are found mysteriously floating in the water was used to frame the discussion on strategic philanthropy at the session Strategic Philanthropy: Vehicles for Getting it Done.
The basic premise is that a group of villagers is working to reach a consensus on how to save [...]

About two years ago, a foundation leader paid us—the Council—a compliment when he said, “This is not your Grandfather’s Council on Foundations.” The comment was meant to honor the emerging changes at the Council, as we sought to provide both sector-specific membership services and sector-wide philanthropic leadership.
Recently I realized, it’s not even my generation’s philanthropy!
At [...]

Who but Ginny Esposito can accurately and appropriately quote Alexis de Tocqueville, engage an audience with humor and present facts based on primary research? Ginny did it again as she presented one of the final workshops (The Value of Family Philanthropy: For Family? For Democracy?) at the Family Philanthropy Conference and kept the audience spellbound.
I [...]

As technology continues to radically transform how people shop, plan, work and communicate, some are exploring the potential impact technology could have on the philanthropic field. Our sector has not been a player in the technological transformation of the 21st century. What opportunities are we missing?
The session, Technology Task Force Town Hall Meeting, was chaired [...]

What a treat to hear Jeff Jarvis speak via Skype at the Council on Foundations’ Family Philanthropy Conference! The delivery vehicle was ideal given the topic; Jarvis navigated his talking points on his computer monitor in one window, while speaking directly to the Council’s live audience of hundreds in another.
“It’s a new world, Golda,” Tevye [...]

Differing views, opinions, approaches and predictions for the future can lead to uncomfortable conversations within families. And, too often, the outcome is deadlock—at best.
According to Harvard lecturer, author and consultant Doug Stone, these conversations—where both parties truly believe they are right—will never be productive if we continue to talk to people “as if their head [...]

This was the challenge issued by Lisa Parker, moderator of a robust discussion about the journey of women’s philanthropy, the successes and the lessons learned from both “heartbreaks” and triumphs. The session (Wind in Our Sails: Women Philanthropists Championing Women and Girls) brought together living legends in the women’s funding movement, including Tracy Gary, Linda [...]

There was something a little different about the Next Generation Retreat this year. Co-conceived by 21/64 and Resource Generation and held for the past seven years at the Family Philanthropy Conference, this half-day interactive session is geared towards those in their 20s and 30s contemplating their role—present and future—in their family’s philanthropy.
What the facilitators noticed [...]

Welcome to RE: Philanthropy! In this blog, guest and Council bloggers share ideas and insights on the most pressing issues in philanthropy. If you want to contribute, please contact

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Council on Foundations.


Diana Doyle
Lisa Philp
Pamela Flaherty
Larry Kutner
John F. Rohe
Mena Amin
Elizabeth Ramirez
Stuart Comstock-Gay
Henry Izumizaki
Chris Cardona
Conaway B. Haskins III
Michelle Byrd
John Padilla
Sam Davis
Kevin F. Walker
Rick Martinez
Philip L. Cochran
Jackie Franey
Rockhelle Johnson
Rajasvini Bhansali
Kim Embretson and Tom McSparron
Jorgen Thomsen
Roger Doughty
Rebecca Graves
Erica Ekwurzel
Caroline Altman Smith
Lance E. Lindblom and Laura Shaffer Campos
Kelly Shipp Simone
Cole Wilbur
Peter Laughran
Erica Wood
Kaberi Banerjee-Murthy
Peter Kostishack
Shanee Helfer
Sheri Booms Holm
Ira Strumwasser, Ph.D.
Ophelia Basgal
Carol Thompson Cole
Roslyn Tam
Jeff Yost
Lyle Matthew Kan
Nancy Henry
Trabian Shorters
Sally Migliore
Dan Hymowitz and Heather Lord
Rick Mappin
Jailan Adly
Curtis Ogden
Chris Rurik
Jordan Marshall