The National Center conducts and commissions groundbreaking research on philanthropic families; we're known for helping families turn research into action!
The National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) launched a collaborative initiative in early 2012 to explore and improve working relationships between private family foundations and family offices. This special initiative, sponsored by Threshold Group and conducted in partnership with the Family Office Exchange, includes research, a published report, webinar, and social media outreach, all aimed at identifying “best practices” for how family foundations and family offices can effectively work together to maximize respective impacts.
Through its work on family foundation governance, management, and succession, the National Center has learned much about the critical and sensitive role of the family foundation CEO. This unique position often involves a complex relationship in which the CEO serves the public good and the foundation’s mission while helping a family (which may or may not be the CEO’s family) articulate and advance their philanthropic vision. The CEO role can be simultaneously inspiring, educational, and maddening... and it is one that most CEOs have no choice but to learn by doing. To support current and future leaders in this work, in 2011 the National Center launched its CEO initiative, Family Philanthropy Leadership: The Role of the Family Foundation CEO.
In September 2008, more than 100 donors, trustees, staff, advisors, and thought-leaders in the field of family philanthropy gathered at the first National Symposium on the Value of Family Philanthropy.
The symposium formed the heart of a research and education initiative to better understand and articulate the value of family philanthropy. Until now, no one has examined and made the clear, compelling case for the value of family participation in philanthropy. This initiative addressed this important objective, and resulted in the 2011 release of The Power to Produce Wonders: First Ever Report to Examine the Value of Family Participation in Philanthropy.
In 2000, the National Center for Family Philanthropy designed, funded, and advised the first comprehensive analysis on U.S. family foundations. Since “family foundation” is not a legal term that allows for family foundations to be readily identified, the National Center and the Foundation Center developed objective criteria that, for the first time, revealed the size, scope, and giving patterns of the nation’s family foundations. A milestone for the field, Family Foundations: A Profile of Funders and Trends, inaugurated the consistent collection and reporting of data specifically on family foundations—work the Foundation Center continues through its annual Key Facts on Family Foundations series.
Generations of Giving led to the development of the first-ever assessment tool specifically designed for family foundations: Pursuit of Excellence. Developed for trustees who wish to understand their strengths and discover opportunities for improvement, Pursuit of Excellence differs from other board assessment tools in that it is the first one designed to include the family-specific aspects of governing and managing a foundation. It not only provides the information families need to measure and compare their individual model of philanthropy with the broader field, it also provides resources to help them put a strong action plan in place to elevate their performance.
In 2008, as a part of this special research initiative, the National Center conducted a first-of-its-kind random, representative survey of the key governance and management practices of family foundations. Another milestone for the National Center, Pursuit of Excellence challenges the cynical picture of family foundations as bickering or haphazard grantmakers with a portrait of a field that, while not without its own challenges, is deeply committed to its founders’ visions for family and community and to adopting the practices most likely to realize those shared dreams.
In 2004, one of our most significant studies culminated in the seminal publication of Generations of Giving: Leadership and Continuity in Family Foundations. Generations of Giving tackled the nature and dynamics of family foundations, exploring how families effectively structured their giving programs, and pulled off the often monumental task of succeeding for at least two generations. A pioneering examination of multigenerational family foundations, Kelin Gersick’s “authoritative study on family foundations” quickly became “a must-read for anyone who has a family foundation or is considering one.”