Extending the Reach of a Family's Giving

We helped a family scale up their philanthropy without the expense and commitment of establishing a private foundation.

A family was looking to scale up their philanthropy and wanted to become more intentional and strategic in their giving rather than simply reacting to ad hoc solicitations for charitable support.

The challenge

Each family member had unique interests and areas of focus for their giving; all had full-time careers and family commitments; and each wanted to bring their children into the process to ensure they could continue the family’s charitable commitment into future generations. The family also wanted to avoid the expense and commitment of establishing a private foundation with full-time staff.

The solution 

With the family’s guidance and direction, we developed a bespoke framework for identifying areas of potential philanthropic investment within each of their priority issue areas, including guidelines to streamline the giving opportunity identification process and the criteria they would use as a group to arrive at consensus decision making.

Once we had a clear sense of the types of programs and organizations the family was looking to fund, our team conducted extensive research and analysis to tee up prospective organizations and programs that would meet the criteria established under the family’s giving framework. We then conducted workshops with the family – both as a group and individually – to explore that analysis, refine potential giving priorities, and draft an extensive list of prospective grantees and partners. This phase of the engagement was highly iterative and responsive to their respective availability and priorities, helping them each balance their philanthropy goals with the realities of their everyday commitments and obligations.

With the long lists in place, we pivoted to engaging prospective grantees in exploratory conversations on behalf of the family, essentially serving as the family’s staff and program officers. We had frank conversations around mission and values fit, potential budget envelopes, and ways in which reporting and monitoring requirements could be streamlined to ensure the family avoided placing unnecessary burdens on their grantees. We also performed due diligence on short-listed organizations as a prelude to final funding decisions.

The results 

Armed with actionable information and a consistent decision-making process, each family member was able to recommend (and fund) initial dockets of grantees in their respective issue areas. Their children were also able to participate in decision-making discussions and debates, helping to build their capacity for evidence-driven giving in the future. Geneva Global codified the family’s customized decision making and analytical frameworks into a “Family Playbook,” designed to allow them to continue their giving in the future without needing to rely entirely on external support or full-time staff. We were able to assist the family in placing more than $15 million in grants in their first year of giving as a group.