How will you organize the work of your philanthropy? From obtaining and maintaining tax-exempt status to making and evaluating grants, there is tremendous work to be done. Chances are, you’ve already chosen the vehicle—whether that’s a family foundation, a donor-advised fund, a supporting organization, a giving circle, or through the family business—so some of these management decisions are already made for you. But making the right management choices for your family, for your organization, and for the causes and institutions you care about can mean the difference between a fractured family making uninspiring grants and an energized family making grants that really make a difference.
Ensure that your philanthropy has access to the people and the resources it needs to thrive:
A choice that often bedevils philanthropic families is whether to hire staff. Do we bring in outsiders into a family enterprise? There are a number of effective models for distributing philanthropic labor. Families sometimes utilize the family office or family business to carry out certain duties. Others employ outsourced administration services that can handle due diligence, recordkeeping, accounting, and even facilitate family meetings and retreats. Others opt to create their own institutions with family as staff. Still others, often as the foundation and its grantmaking grow, choose to hire non-family staff. Staffing brings with it new considerations like salary and benefits, personnel and hiring policies, and more. The question becomes not "will we hire staff?" but "how do we get the talent and perspectives we need to fulfill our organization’s charitable mission?" That may mean staff; it may not. It may mean outsourced administration; it may mean creating a new institution.
As a foundation and its grantmaking change and grow, it may need to draw on new resources to accomplish the work. At some point, the work may be too much for a lone family staffer to handle. You might outgrow your original office space. Philanthropic families take their stewardship seriously and try to keep administrative costs down. Unfortunately, this can lead many to focus on the costs that staff, offices, or a new website represent without considering how much more impact the foundation could have with an appropriate level of resources. For example, an office and well-maintained facilities can provide venues for nonprofit meetings or even shared office space. A website can simplify the application process both for grantees and the foundation and provide a private online meeting place for trustees who may be geographically dispersed.
Browse the reading below for additional information on getting the right people and the right resources for your philanthropy.