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The Philanthropic Initiative Inc.’s strategic philanthropy blog
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families, foundations and corporations
dream big and act wisely

Family Philanthropy ( Category Archives )


Are You Taking the Long View?

Failing to plan is planning to fail.  Undoubtedly you’ve heard that quote before and it’s certainly something that many foundations have in mind when thinking about the future. On the other hand, the strategic plan has received quite a bit of abuse recently, influenced in part by the Monitor Institute’s article, The Strategic Plan is Dead.  Long Live Strategy. As the authors of that piece point out, “the world has become a more turbulent place, where anyone with a new idea can put it into action before you can say ‘startup’ and launch widespread movements with a single Tweet.”  In today’s environment, where the planning timeframe seems to have telescoped down to nanoseconds or certainly no more than a year, is there any point in taking the long view?


It turns out that some of the new Chinese philanthropists think so.


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Teaching philanthropy – yes, it works!

I’ve always said that when it comes to influencing your children to be charitable, it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.  Guess what, I was wrong.

Hot off the presses, the latest Women Give 2013 research on charitable giving by girls and boys has some interesting and surprising findings.  It found that children whose parents talk to them about giving are 20% more likely to give than those whose parents don’t.  And it found that talking actually matters more than role-modeling when it comes to parents influencing their children’s philanthropic behavior.

Well I guess I’m going to have to change my story.   Talking works!

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Filed under: Family Philanthropy


Strategic Family Philanthropy – an Oxymoron?

I have a confession.  I’m a prosetelyzer and I’m an evangelist…for strategic family philanthropy.  I caught the bug when my own family discovered the joys of working together on our family foundation, and it’s become a calling in life.  I’ve spent the last 20 years of my professional life evangelizing: working with families who are about to embark on a journey into family philanthropy – or are already deep into it , and helping them become more fulfilled in that journey, craft and realize big ambitions and become strategic, effective givers.  Dream big and give wisely – that’s TPI’s tagline.

The problem is that it’s not easy.  More than a few people have told me it’s a lost cause, that I’m Sisyphus pushing that big old rock up the hill.   But unlike Sisyphus, this is my goal, not a punishment, and the rewards of seeing some of those rocks reach the top of the hill have made it worth it.

In this series of posts, I’m going to talk about why I think strategic family philanthropy is important and why it can be so hard to achieve.  I’ll share some examples of success and failure, and provide you with a little advice for what you can do to make it a reality – and not an oxymoron.

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Leadership, Legacy and Life

I recently returned from my first L3 retreat and saw the middle of a sandwich.

L3 is a new organization, standing for Leadership, Legacy and Life, whose members share a commitment  to “enjoy a life of greater significance and to enrich the lives of others…to apply their respective experiences, skills and resources to optimize their impact on family, community and their world. “ I love the organization’s mission and

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Highlighting the “Why?” of Donor Intent

My father was an entrepreneur who in the 1980s created a small family foundation to which he named my three siblings and me the successor trustees. Although we knew about the foundation and he had occasionally spoken to us about our possible involvement, we had not worked together in philanthropy.  Twenty-five years ago, I was scheduled to visit him and intended to have a conversation about why he had named us as successors and what his thoughts were about the future of the foundation. One week before that visit, he died unexpectedly and the conversation never took place.

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