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Foundations and the SDGs: the ‘conspicuous absentees’ speak out

The philanthropic community has been ‘conspicuously absent from the SDG debate’, according to Kevin Watkins of the UK’s Overseas Development Institute, writing in the March 2015 issue of Alliance. However, as he suggests, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will take final shape later this year, are likely to have a significant influence on the environment in which foundations operate. We asked a number of people from different regions why foundations should take the SDGs seriously, and how their influence is likely to make itself felt on their work both domestically and internationally. Their response suggests that, even if they Read more





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Master Juggler Executive Institute

This leadership program offers: A unique opportunity for executive directors/CEOs and the foundations they serve, combining world-class training and executive coaching. Wisdom from seasoned experts in leadership, organizational development, and philanthropy, plus the collective experience of fellow foundation executives. A small cohort that supports deep connections, real accountability, and a personalized learning experience for each participant.    





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“Family Foundations”

This issue on “Family Foundations” in More than Money, offers many tales from the family foundation frontlines. Lots of cartoons supporting stories of challenging family dynamics en route to matching funding decisions to personal values. First person descriptions of decision-making styles both affirming and autocratic; conflict between generations; upsetting the family order. Also, stories of family foundations structured to welcome input from all who wish to participate, foundations reorganized and given to community leaders, and creative cooperation in finding areas to fund.





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Expert Q & A: How do learning needs and styles differ across generations, and how can family foundations teach philanthropy to the next generation?

By: Sharna Goldseker, Executive Director at 21/64 From your work across multiple generations in philanthropic organizations, what are you seeing as key learning needs? Much of the work we’ve been doing at 21/64 for the past twelve years coincides with research that shows each generation brings a unique set of values, skills, and experiences to the philanthropic table. The first key learning need is around values clarification, which we believe leads not only to better working relationships among funders but also to more effective philanthropy. Beginning to uncover one’s own values and learn what values motivate others is critical to bridging the generational divide. Often, Read more





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Top 5 Starting Places for Family Foundations and Donors

By: Michael Moody, Frey Chair for Family Philanthropy at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy These five resources in the LearnPhilanthropy Knowledge Library are ideal starting places for grantmakers involved in family giving in some way – as a trustee or staff of a family foundation or a donor-advised fund, as an individual donor, as a consultant or family advisor, etc. This list also points to some of the primary infrastructure organizations serving family grantmakers, and each source has multiple other resources for family donors who want to dig further. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors: Your Philanthropy Roadmap – The “Philanthropy Read more





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A Hedgehog Moment: The Roles and Pitfalls of Strategic Philanthropy for Family Foundations and Donors

The growing quantity of giving has not been matched by improved quality. The growth in the quantity of new philanthropy and the search for more effective philanthropy has now produced a “significant moment in the marketization of philanthropy.” A recent outpouring of books by foundation officials, consultants and academics has broadly emphasized the idea that “strategic philanthropy” in some form promises significant improvements. With these books, then, do donors, family foundations, and philanthropy generally have new usable knowledge to meet the challenge of quality grantmaking?





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The Family Difference? Exploring the Congruence in Grant Distribution Patterns Between Family and Independent Foundations

Using a broad group of family and independent foundations from a representative sample of Georgia foundations, the authors examined differences in giving patterns between family and independent foundations. Findings confirm the result of previous work that studied large foundations. There are no substantial differences between family and independent foundations’ preferences even when controlling for a nonprofit’s location and size. These findings are relevant for discussions about the role of non-family members on boards.





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Challenges and Strategies for Family Foundations With Geographically Dispersed Board Members

This article, based on interviews with leaders of 10 family foundations, investigates the impact of geographic dispersion on governance, administration, decision making, and grantmaking activities. The greatest challenges for family foundations with dispersed boards involve assembling an appropriate staff, ensuring strong communication between staff and board members, and focusing the organization’s mission. Maintaining family board member interest in the foundation’s geographic area and bridging and strengthening ties between generations were also concerns. In order to maintain family legacies, all case-study foundations found unique ways to overcome challenges and were deliberate in ensuring that board members stayed actively engaged in the Read more





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What Is a Family Foundation?

Family foundations are important institutions, making up a significant portion of the foundation universe and having both local and global impact. Yet we have no shared definition of this diverse and evolving category. Clarifying the definition will help challenge persistent misconceptions, get perspective on the diversity, and improve foundations’ understanding of their own family dimensions. This article surveys the different definitions of family foundation that are, and have been, used by key organizations in the field and by researchers. It also reviews examples of the variations and complicating factors that make answering the title question difficult. A single or simple Read more











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How Do I Work with My Family to Achieve High-Impact Philanthropy?

Philanthropy FAQ: in our experience, if you are serious about getting results with your philanthropy and seek to work with your family to do so, there are four explicit ways to increase your odds of success. Because each family is unique, with its own values, assets, and challenges, you will want to ensure that you work to take advantage of your assets and minimize the challenges. In particular, it’s been our experience that philanthropy is not an adequate way of solving family problems, and in some cases may exacerbate those that exist. Therefore, it’s important to consider this guidance in Read more





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Giving Toolkit: Risk More

When we encourage givers to “risk more,” what we really mean is, “Let your giving become an adventure!” Does this appeal? If your giving often feels just routine, or burdensome, or anxiety-producing, perhaps you’d like to venture outside your habits and try something really different and better for yourself. Here are some ideas to get you started. This exercise invites you to step outside your current giving style.





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“Public or Private? The Empowered Choice”

This article in More than Money, discusses how the choices we make about being public or private donors depend on the intricate web of factors that define our own lives. For some, the “right” choice is to be blatantly “out”; for others, it is to be intensely private; for still others, it’s a middle ground – more open in some contexts, more private in others. The key is to choose in an empowered way-with deliberate and aware intention, so that other people’s opinions, your own fears and emotions, societal pressure, or circumstances beyond your control are not making your decisions Read more





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Giving Toolkit: Inspire More

No matter how much money or how little money you personally have to give, you can increase your impact a thousand-fold by inspiring the giving of others. (Look at Bill Gates! Even he felt that his best contribution would be to encourage his peers to give, and so he started a 50% Giving Pledge for his fellow billionaires.) We’ll help you explore a variety of ways to inspire the giving of others.





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Quick Experiments in Bolder Giving

Many donors have asked us for quick-and-easy ways to experiment with giving levels. In these two pages of the Bolder Giving Workbook, we share some of the giving experiments that creative givers have tried. We illustrate each option as though implemented by a fictional character: Julia Harlow, single, age 32, freelance software consultant with net earnings of $50,000 a year who also inherited $1.4 million from her grandparents. (Your financial situation may differ dramatically from hers, but some of the ideas for giving may still be useful.)







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“Effective Giving”

In this issue on “Effective Giving” in More than Money, people with surplus income talk about what they’ve learned about giving–what’s satisfying, what’s hard, what makes giving most effective. You’ll hear from “ordinary people,” as well as well known philanthropists. From Steve Kirsch, large-scale venture capitalist with his own multi-million dollar foundation, to Wayne Muller, who advocates giving small and simply on a local scale, this issue invites you to explore the range of available options –and find out what giving effectively means you.







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Private Foundations May Advocate

While private foundations incur a prohibitive tax when they engage in or fund advocacy, they may still engage in a variety of advocacy activities. This fact sheet explains how private foundations can engage in a variety of advocacy activities.





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Place-Based Philanthropy: Investing in Community Change

This article discusses how a growing number of family foundations have taken a commitment to geographic location to another level, and made the strategic decision to engage in place-based philanthropy, dedicating the majority of their giving and personal involvement in a specific community.    







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Conflicts of Interest: Steering Clear of Potholes and Other Bumps in the Road

Most family foundations prefer to focus on the business of giving, without having to worry about tripping over the sometimes obscure rules and regulations that govern this work. But the fact is that family foundation boards need to be aware of potential potholes on the road named philanthropy. Driving blind down this road can get you into trouble.







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CEO Transitions in Family Foundations

Among the most important tasks that any board confronts is the choice of head staff person. If anything, this decision has even greater significance in family foundations. Whether the position is vacant because of the retirement of a beloved CEO or the departure of a problematic one, CEO transitions in family foundations typically have three major stages: clarifying the foundation direction identifying a suitable successor realigning the foundation’s strategies and/or programs as necessary