Conflict is normal in any family or organization.

Yet, many of us avoid conflicts, even if that avoidance affects relationships or how the foundation operates. In this issue of Passages, you’ll learn about the most common conflicts in family philanthropy, the creative “tactics” some boards use to perpetuate the avoidance, and how you can use simple tools to address conflict in a healthy, productive way.

Families who come together in philanthropy, be it a foundation or other giving vehicle, bring their strengths, their passions, their identities, and their conflicts with them. Out of fear or out of love, some will go years or decades (generations even!) keeping their differences under wraps and avoiding difficult conversations.

Conflict most often occurs when people perceive that there is a threat to their needs, interests, or concerns. “Although conflict is a normal part of any organization’s life, there’s a tendency to see it as negative and caused by difficult circumstances,” says Bobbi Hapgood, trustee of the Educational Foundation of America and founder of Philanthropic Ventures, a North Carolina-based consulting firm.

Yet conflict is neither good nor bad. It’s a natural part of human relationships and a dynamic in all group settings. For the most part, disputes aren’t caused by “bad people” trying to be difficult.  They often result from people with good intentions trying to accomplish shared goals.

Read the full article about managing conflict in family philanthropy by Elaine Gast Fawcett.