Regardless of whether you are engaging in philanthropy for the first time or seeking avenues of engaging your family, it is very important to take time out right at the beginning to think about your objectives and invite opinions from your family members. You will want to engage in the governance of family philanthropy in the best possible manner so that your actions have the biggest impact. Some family philanthropy best practices that you will do well to follow:
Obtain Clarity on Your Charitable Identity Suggests Jonah Engler
With non-profit entities in America numbering more than 1.5 million, it can be tough to decide where to donate your money. While you can get a feel by making a few exploratory grants, it is also very important that you devote some time to get a fix on your philanthropic identity. This is essentially asking yourself and your family about the legacy that you have inherited from both the family and the community and how that gives you a particular position and perspective about the world. By reflecting on these important aspects, you will be able to narrow your focus and get clarity on what you want to do to make the difference through philanthropy. According to https://www.forbes.com, families usually look for something they can relate to for deciding on a cause to support. Not surprisingly, globally, the top three causes are education, health, and the arts, culture, and sports.
Decide on Your Priorities Recommends Jonah Engler
It is common for donors to try to do two things with philanthropy; unite the family and do well. According to experts, it can be very difficult to simultaneously achieve both the wishes. Donors who can prioritize one over the other tend to be more successful in achieving their objectives. If you are very sure that you want your philanthropy to be directed in a specific direction, you should be upfront about it and acknowledge that every member of your family might not be similarly inclined. If building unity in the family is what you are after, you should ensure that you involve all the family members in the discussions and decision-making right from the very start. Regardless of what your motive is, the more clarity you have on your intentions, the more you will be able to avoid disruptive family dynamics subsequently.
Spell Out Your Values Advises Jonah Engler
While embarking on family philanthropy, it is natural to ask what the donations will fund, however, instead of arriving at something by arbitrary guesswork, the proper way of doing it, according to Jonah Engler, is by voicing your core beliefs, motivational values that will be the foundation of the family’s decisions on funding charitable causes. These values will also define how the family communicates and interacts with the beneficiaries, partners, as well as the general public. The process becomes easier when each family member is encouraged to voice his personal values and share them with the rest of the family. The resultant discussion can help the family as a whole to articulate and define the values of their philanthropic activities.
Evolve the Vision and Mission Statements Counsels Jonah Engler
While there is nothing wrong with being sentimentally moved and giving a donation to a cause that you feel is important, it can be difficult to maintain consistency in the long run. When you want your philanthropy to be responsible and result in the maximum impact on the beneficiaries, you need to have the vision and mission statements crafted carefully to avoid ambiguity and confusion. Many people tend to get confused about the difference between the vision and the mission statements. The vision statement enunciates the change you want to make through your philanthropy while the mission statement clarifies how you will do it over the near term. The clearer your vision statement is regarding what activities you will or will not fund, the easier others, including funding partners and beneficiaries, will find to approach you and work with you. A well-crafted vision statement also enables you to find out whether a particular funding proposal is in line with your philanthropic objectives or not.
Define Your Philanthropic Personality Instructs Jonah Engler
While there is no right way of doing charitable work, most people do tend to have some idea of how they would like to conduct their philanthropy. Some prefer to remain at arm’s length or even donate anonymously or let their staff or even consultants or lawyers represent them while others prefer to interact with the grantees directly and make it a point to be completely hands-on, offering both time and talent in addition to funds to partner the grantee organizations. Consult each family member about how they would like to conduct their philanthropy. The desire to remain anonymous or get recognition can impact a lot of decisions, including the naming of the family foundation, relationships with grantees, and publicity to name a few.
Allocate Roles and Responsibilities Prescribes Jonah Engler
It is important to organize the family philanthropy on the lines of an established foundation or company by giving every member of the family a defined role with commensurate responsibility and accountability. Not only will this allow everyone to bring his talents and skills to the table but also inculcate the feeling of unity within the family. The roles should not be allocated arbitrarily, instead define the expectations of the role and the necessary criteria required to take up that role. It may be possible that for certain critical roles, nobody in the family is found suitable and this might necessitate someone to be inducted from outside the family. Defining the roles will also ensure that family politics does not rear its head and spoil the professionalism of the family philanthropy.
For the family charitable foundation to operate smoothly, the governing processes and operating procedures must be defined lest conflicts arise within the family regarding the decision-making authority of each member. It is very important to have clearly defined processes that specify how funding proposals are introduced and what will be the procedure for approving or rejecting them. It is also important that board members are aware of their legal and fiduciary duties and responsibilities.