How Donors Engage The Family In Their Private Foundations

Eliane Chavagnon Editor June 3, 2016

How Donors Engage The Family In Their Private Foundations

A suvey by Foundation Source sheds light on preferences on how donors engage family members when it comes to their private foundations.

Family foundations are just as much about family as they are about philanthropy, according to Foundation Source's spring client survey.

For many respondents, the firm said, family involvement and participation is of equal importance to “making a difference.” For example, when asked to compare the significance of “family engagement” with “having an impact,” 62 per cent of respondents said they were equally valuable.

Meanwhile, most respondents feel family members should be at least 18 years of age if they are to become involved in the foundation. Over half (55 per cent) said they feel that offspring should be between the ages of 26 and 40 before assuming their place at the table.

In other findings, only 27 per cent of respondents permit non-family members to serve on their foundations: when asked which relatives of the founder serve on the foundation, most said participation is typically limited to the founder’s spouse (63 per cent) and children (93 per cent). Children’s spouses (35 per cent), step-­children/adopted children (19 per cent) and divorced spouses (2 per cent) are less likely to participate, according to the survey.

The findings are based on answers from 203 respondents, the majority of whom have private foundations with less than $50 million in assets.

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