Best Practices for Family Philanthropy

Christina Wing
March 12, 2024

Philanthropy is a key priority for many families, but when sitting down and considering where to start, the vast options can be overwhelming. Social impact is not supposed to be a chore, but rather something you and your family can appreciate and look forward to creating together.

In this article for Family Capital, Wingspan’s Christina Wing delves into the five best practices for setting up a family philanthropic initiative, including:

  1. Prioritize Your Family Values and Mission Statement: Don’t just jump in and start handing out cash; to have a definite impact, you need to think carefully about what you want to do and define core principles, with buy-in from all family members.
  2. Keep It Professional: Govern your philanthropic initiatives or foundation with the same principles as a family business or family office; formalize policies and procedures, and potentially bring in outside expertise.
  3. Generational Engagement: As with a family business or family office, it’s essential to bring in the next generation early on to make sure they have a vested stake and interest in the family mission; involve them especially in the research and evaluation of social impact, so they know it’s not just about cutting a check to worthy-sounding causes.
  4. Measure Your Impact: Quantify everything you do and make sure there are key goals and benchmarks. Well-meaning philanthropy can quickly turn into a feckless giveaway; families need to think in terms of investment rather than charity.
  5. Revisit and Rewrite: Don’t set philanthropy governance policies in stone; make sure there is leeway and flexibility as things evolve and trial and error proves what results in the most positive impact.

Read more about how to implement this process in Family Capital.

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About Christina Wing

Christina founded Wingspan Legacy Partners to help Founders and Families navigate the intersections between Family dynamics, business operations, wealth, legacy and philanthropic impact.