In 2015, after more than ten years of advocating and planning, the National Center for Family Philanthropy realized its dream of presenting rigorous, research-based findings on trends in the practice of family giving.
Up until that time, it was assumed that families would not respond to a survey designed to understand the inner workings of their family’s participation in philanthropy in numbers needed to constitute a statistically relevant sample. Further, the lack of a legal definition of the term “family foundation” meant that there had to be strong agreement about what would constitute such a foundation for inclusion in the study.
NCFP’s 2015 Trends Study: Results of the First National Benchmark Survey of Family Foundations highlighted six key trends to watch in family giving. NCFP developed smaller initiatives to explore each of these trends and to provide resources and support to families dealing with one or more of these issues. Key trends explored to date include strategic lifespan (also known as “the question of perpetuity”), transparency, and engaging the next generation. Another important trend that surfaced was how foundations that are founded with a commitment to a particular geographic region, usually the founder’s “hometown,” remain committed to the hometown over generations while sustaining both effective grantmaking and family involvement. This report provides our first-ever in-depth look examining place-based, multigenerational family giving.
Rather than look first to comparing the contrasting decisions—why a place or issue basis for giving—this study is designed to examine how family foundations and funds committed to place are sustaining (or not sustaining) that commitment over generations.
This study is based on interviews with leaders from more than 50 place-based family foundations over the course of 2017 and 2018. Study participants included foundations with assets ranging from $15 million to more than $2 billion, although a few are pass-through.
Read the full report on place-based family giving by Virginia M. Esposito at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.
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