A little over a decade ago, the National Center for Family Philanthropy and Lansberg Gersick and Associates partnered to develop and publish Generations of Giving: Leadership and Continuity in Family Philanthropy. In a follow-­up to that landmark study, NCFP is now co-­sponsoring a research project with LGA to explore how complex, multigenerational business families are using a variety of vehicles beyond their family foundations to pursue philanthropic goals—including their personal philanthropy, donor-­advised funds, corporate social responsibility programs, and values‐aligned investing strategies.

Many of the families in our networks have found the coordination of all these different activities to be a challenge. We have initiated this research in the hopes to learn from the experiences of families so that we can present aggregate findings and offer guidance to the field at large.

The professional and conceptual understanding of family philanthropy has made significant strides in recent years. Thoughtful research, extensive education and training, and the open sharing of experience at forums and conferences have had a profoundly positive effect on the ability of private foundations, large and small, to accomplish strategic, high‐impact philanthropy.

The field has accumulated stories from some of these families, but we do not yet have a good understanding of how successful families manage their family dynamics as they fulfill their governance responsibilities in guiding these complex philanthropic activities. Our experience suggests that, while the philanthropic operations may be compartmentalized into these different grantmaking structures, the family members themselves see all of these efforts as interconnected—expressions of related aspects of the family’s values, overall philanthropic agenda, and self/family image. The challenge is for the family to coordinate all of the disparate components, so that its philanthropic identity is authentically represented by the overall scope of work done in its name. To accomplish that, the family must recognize and address a few critical questions.

Read the full article about integrated philanthropy by Wendy R. Ulaszek, Neus Feliu,  Kelin E. Gersick, and Don Carlson at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.