family photosAll families experience change as a natural part of life, and family foundations are no different. Family members move to other parts of the country. People get busy, and priorities change. The founders age and look to the next generation for leadership.

How a family foundation anticipates or responds to change will determine their giving legacy. Here are some common ways that these family transitions play out in foundation operations:

  • Governance
  • Leadership transitions
  • Limited family pool for succession
  • Next generation involvement
  • Management
  • Managing advisors and staff, especially remotely
  • Different perspectives on what constitutes sufficient management and oversight for the family foundation
  • Board disinterest in the management of the foundation
  • Grantmaking
  • Divergent views, interests, and ideas about community needs
  • Lack of common core values in grantmaking
  • Different expectations about procedures and board involvement in grant selection

Family philanthropy structures, leaders, and goals are constantly evolving, just like the families they represent.

Open communication among all family members – before and after establishing the foundation – can help set the tone for effective change management.
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