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Family Philanthropy

By Family GovernanceJanuary, 2023March 18th, 20242 min read
Family Philanthropy

Family philanthropy is the act of a collective rather than an individual. It is rooted in the values of a family, carrying forward its name and legacy, and engaging its members.

That makes it about a lot more than just writing cheques. It needs people from multiple generations working together, and that needs to be driven by a purpose and strategy.

Two important surveys indicate that this is not happening effectively. According to a global study, only 30% of family offices have documented strategies to deploy wealth in a truly meaningful way. In another study, 76% of respondents said they are likely to give to different causes and non-profits than their parents, but 82 percent of parents believe that they and their children share the same philanthropic goals!

Sometimes philanthropic priorities are driven by “wealth guilt”, for example fossil fuel dynasties where the rising generation are committed to climate change and sustainability. For some families, their giving can even be a form of reckoning with the source of their wealth. Seeing philanthropy as a rejection of their ancestors’ legacy is very negative.

There are signs of potential conflict and confusion within families over giving priorities. It’s important to get ahead of this by having family discussions about purpose and values, and using this to articulate a philanthropy strategy.

Consider This: What is your family’s philanthropic mission and strategy? How is it communicated within the family? If you don’t have one, how can you get the process happening? 

Further reading:

Here is more on reading on family governance.

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