Family Foundations – who is really making the decisions?

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Have you ever wondered who really manages all those Family Foundations?  Follow along for a quick snapshot of who is making the decisions—

Family Foundations are almost always under the purview of immediate family members only.

When setting up a Family Foundation the founder will determine who is eligible for Board service—the vast majority of Family Foundations are exclusively controlled by the donor, the donor’s spouse, and their immediate children.  Adult grandchildren are sometimes involved (30%), but donor’s siblings (9%) and parents (2%) rarely are—and how Board members are selected: 12.5% confer membership automatically based on age, 6% select members to represent different branches of the family, and 17% select board members based on skills.

Family Foundations continue to rely on their own network to identify grantees. Only 10% of Family Foundations said they accept unsolicited requests.

And although discretionary funds given to Board members to award grants on an individual basis only account for 25% of overall grant making, a majority of Family Foundations (70%) now provide discretionary funds for Board members’ use.

Last year Family Foundations awarded more than 3.5 billion dollars in some 140,000 grants. The average award size fell between $15,000 and $20,000.  In case you missed it—check out our blog with more Family Foundation Giving Stats.

While Board service may be changing, motivations for establishing a Family Foundation are not!  Leaving a legacy is so much more than making a name for yourself. It’s about inspiring future generations. With families living further apart, shared philanthropy builds a family identity and bonds that once grew naturally through living in the same community.

Have you ever wondered if a Family Foundation is the right fit for your philanthropic goals?  Rodman & Associates is here to help.