Spending down is now a frequent topic in philanthropic discussions. Much of the current writing on the subject focuses on a desire to have greater impact. One of the primary reasons for choosing to operate as a limited life foundation is a belief that making large investments over a shorter period time is a more effective and impactful approach to meeting pressing needs.

Family foundations serve a variety of purposes beyond making a difference in the world. When we ask our clients to reflect on why their family foundation is important to them, the next generation features prominently into their thinking.

When considering a time horizon for your family foundation, it may be helpful to ask these questions in a family dialogue:

  • Why is the family foundation important?
  • Does it play a positive role in the life of the family?
  • Does the next generation want to participate and do they have similar interests and values?
  • Is the family prepared to invest in what it takes for a successful multigenerational family philanthropy?
  • Are there other vehicles or methods to achieve the family’s goals?

No matter what the outcome, families find great relief and inspiration in looking at these questions head on and making decisions that truly reflect what works best for them.

Read the full article about family foundations by  Mollie Bunis  at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.