The Durfee Foundation has held many board retreats during its 54-year history, but these have always been for trustees only. In 2014 we decided to do an all-family board retreat and bring together toddlers, teens, trustees, and elders.

Why the change? In 2013, we brought two new family members onto our board, which had previously consisted of five family and two non-family trustees. Durfee typically reaches out to new family board members when they are in their 20s, and we did the same when we invited Chris and Sara to start the yearlong "onboarding" process for becoming trustees. They were model prospective trustees: eager to learn, fresh with ideas, appreciative of what had been accomplished in the past, and full of enthusiasm for the opportunities that the family foundation board offered. Their only complaint?  Why didn’t we learn about the foundation earlier?

This got us thinking. Even though we never intended to operate behind closed doors, it was clear that we needed to make a better effort to show the whole family, not just those already on the board, what the Durfee Foundation is about.

The Durfee Foundation, established in 1960, is a family foundation with approximately $30m in assets and a regional focus on Los Angeles County. Until our 50th anniversary in 2010, we operated with an all-family board, but since then we have elected two non-family trustees to the board. The foundation was started by my grandparents, Stan and Dorothy Durfee Avery. Their three children served on the board for decades, but have retired. Current family trustees are all grandchildren of Stan and Dorothy (3G), ranging in age from 20s to 50s. The next crop of family members eligible for service, a “Next Gen”mix of 3G and 4G, range in age from 17 to 26. We also have a younger, all-4G cohort, ages 2-10.

How could we create a weekend retreat that would help the board re-engage around its mission and goals, introduce the Next Gen to the foundation, and give an age-appropriate glimpse of the foundation to the youngest 4G group? Oh yes, and we also had a big docket of board business to get through.

Read the full article about engaging the next generation by Caroline Avery at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.