This Passages issue paper explores the interplay of family dynamics and family governance in family philanthropies, concluding families who think about their governance systems, including how decisions will be made, are less likely to be encumbered by family dynamics than families who begin their philanthropies informally, progressing to formality over time. In addition, families who openly address their underlying internal dynamics are less likely to let them get in the way of effective philanthropy.

Private philanthropy is increasingly a family affair, with unique opportunities and challenges. While many families enjoy working together and are making a positive difference through their philanthropy, other families struggle with two areas that can be especially troubling: family dynamics and family governance.

Family dynamics are the ways family members interact with each other individually and as a distinct system. Often, family members transfer these ways of interacting to their philanthropic experiences when they work together.

Family governance is the framework in which a family manages its joint affairs. A family applies guiding principles to general policies and specific practices for carrying out the roles and responsibilities of their joint activities, such as family philanthropy.

Read the full article about family governance and dynamics by The National Center for Family Philanthropy.