Elevating the success of Family Enterprises in philanthropy involves three elements:  1) removing barriers to the effectiveness of the process; 2) identifying and committing to the right strategy; and 3) refreshing the family's engagement with periodic "energy bursts."

Removing barriers to the effectiveness of the process is an important first step.  Perhaps there are so many family members with different charitable goals that it seems impossible to build consensus.  A family survey exercise, leading to a family governance structure, can remove this barrier to effectiveness.  Or, perhaps family members simply need good information about the legal rules, roles and purposes of a family foundation before taking action.  Having these resources available in a centralized location can give family members assurance that their decisions are well-informed.

Once the process has been established, strategic planning becomes the next step.  Family members must prioritize their charitable objectives and identify a strategy designed to move these charitable objectives forward.  A facilitator can gather input from family decision-makers, create a written plan, and help the Board of Directors oversee the implementation of the plan. 

Family members lead busy lives, and with best intentions often philanthropy is set aside for more immediate life pressures and obligations.  Periodic "energy bursts" can refresh the family's engagement in philanthropy.  A destination visit to a country whose charitable organizations have been supported by the family foundation; or a family social enterprise competition, can refuel the family's passion for giving and create meaningful life experiences for multiple generations. 

These three elements can help to take your family philanthropy to the next level!

Greetings from the 2013 Minnesota Council on Foundations Philanthropy Convening Conference.  This morning's keynote speaker was Sterling Speirn, President and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, on the topic of Diversity, Racial Equity and Inclusion Inside and Outside Foundations:  Reflections on the Journey.  Following the presentation, the conference attendees participated in a "World Cafe" style round table discussion on our visions and strategies for philanthropy and giving that are fully inclusive of all stakeholders.  Here are some key reflections on the discussion:

Exercise "Cultural Humility" in Philanthropy:  "Cultural Humility" means loving, and even preferring your own culture, but not thinking it is superior to other cultures.

Ask the Community You Seek to Help What Help They Need:  Often, grant makers have a generous and wonderful idea of how to help a community, but the community itself has other needs or prioritizes their needs differently.  Consider bringing the people being served into the conversation and involving everyone in the solution.  Research how the community you seek to support tends to support its own community and culture and bring these ideas into the plan.  Consider how the community you are trying to serve works.  At one time, the Kellogg Foundation sought to make a grant to certain Tribal Colleges.  The Kellogg Foundation reached out to the Tribal Colleges and asked them each to submit an RFP for a grant.  The Tribal Colleges responded that they would not compete against each other for the "prize" - either Kellogg Foundation had to work with them all together or not at all.  Kellogg Foundation agreed to work with them together and a great relationship was born.

Ask Big Questions; Think Short- and Long-Term:  Don't be afraid to take on a really big problem and look at it from all angles.  One conference attendee's foundation sought to bring health care to underserved populations in India.  However, they discovered that clinics weren't being used because the roads leading to the clinics were unusable.  As a result, the organization is partnering with other funders to repair the roads and fund the clinics.

The conference has been very informative and engaging so far, and I look forward to sharing further ideas with you.
I am excited to introduce the first Our Wealth Compass Blog posting!  I have been working on lots of updated content for the Our Wealth Compass website.  I am collaborating with some of the best advisors in the industry of family enterprises to bring you several new articles.  I look forward to sharing them with you soon.

Tomorrow, I am attending the Minnesota Council on Foundations 2013 MCF Philanthropy Convening:  Pause! Shift! Engage! event.  Hot topics will include:  innovative funding strategies to create greater impact; and working across generations in family philanthropy.  More to follow on these topics!