We are living in a new gilded age. As close observers of the world of family giving, we are convinced this is an historic moment for families and the future of philanthropy as well. Momentous forces are sweeping across the philanthropic landscape. Astonishing wealth creation and rapidly worsening inequality. Re-energized movements to fight persistent systemic injustice. Intense scrutiny of big giving. Globalization.

What makes this moment perhaps the most notable time in the history of family philanthropy is that it is a time of crucial choices—with huge potential consequences and opportunities. Change is possible, but first, we must grapple with some hard questions our field has traditionally left unanswered. If families reflect deeply in this moment on their philanthropic purpose, pace, power, and practices, and carefully choose their future path in this rapidly changing world, they will not only expand their impact but can fundamentally change the norms of our entire sector and help catalyze broader social transformation.

Who and what do we mean by family philanthropy? Family philanthropy is, at its core, the act of a collective—rooted in the values of a family, carrying forward its name and legacy, and engaging its members. As a sector, we embrace and value family philanthropy as both a vehicle for bringing families together and a responsibility to our communities. A family philanthropic enterprise can be two people or 200, one generation or 10; it can be exclusively directed by family or incorporate independent and community voices. If you give with your family or a family, whether through a donor-advised fund, a foundation, a giving circle, or anything in between, you are connected to family philanthropy. That means this historic moment is your moment.

More and more philanthropic families are also beginning to embrace a dialogue around their power and privilege—a dialogue fueled as well by the amplified critiques of the field that no one can (or should) now ignore. Donors are asking crucial questions about their role and responsibility as wealth holders in an unequal world, and—in the same spirit of trying new things noted earlier in the essay—looking for better ways to reinvest that wealth, ways that move toward more trusted partnerships and more shared power.

Read the full article about family philanthropy by Nick Tedesco & Michael Moody at Stanford Social Innovation Review.