Many families with multiple branches may elect to set up a Family Council. While the particular roles and responsibilities of Family Councils vary across families, they typically function as an oversight committee that consists of a small group of family members elected or selected out of the larger family. For example, in a family with five branches totaling more than 100 members, the Family Council might include a representative of each branch, along with one or more members chosen by the group at large. In a small family, the Family Council might consist of all adult family members (with “adult” defined by the family itself).

Family Councils can serve an important role for a family when their philanthropy is supported by a Family Office. The Family Council may be assigned responsibility for leading the process of discovering and articulating the family’s goals and the principles that guide the family’s work together. As an oversight body, the Family Council may work to ensure that the Family Office supports activities that enhance the positive development of individual family members, and can help ensure that family members do not become adversely dependent on family resources. On the philanthropy front, the Family Council can serve as a catalyst for an exploration of the family’s values and vision, which can then be implemented through the family’s philanthropy.

Read the full article about family councils by Patricia Angus at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.