Family Philanthropy Governance

“How do we do this?  That is often a question Sharilyn hears from families who are interested in giving together.  It is also the question which spurred her doctoral research on governance and multi-generational family philanthropy in Canada.  Her work with family clients is informed greatly by this experience and knowledge.

Through her exploration, she created the Family Philanthropy Governance Model ©, which provides a roadmap that helps families get organized to give in a way that works, regardless of the giving structure (or structures) a family chooses to give through.

Dr. Hale’s work is the only research of its kind globally and was recognized with the Outstanding Dissertation Award from Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota.

A two-page executive summary of her study is available for download here.

Her full dissertation paper is available upon request.

family philanthropy research

Family Philanthropy Governance Model©

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Governance Actions
What families do
  • Envision a purpose for giving that benefits the community and the family
  • Ensure right-sized management and resources to support giving
  • Frame approach for giving and engagement with recipients
  • Harness social capital to communicate and make decisions among family members, community partners and advisors
  • Clarify leadership, roles and expectations of participating family members, and grow wisdom through learning
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Principles of Engagement
How families do it
  • Ensure family participation is voluntary
  • Engage with trust
  • Prioritize dialogue
  • Seek consensus
  • Commit to accountability to self, family and community
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Governance Enablers
What families need
  • Initiating and sustaining leadership
  • Awareness of family history, culture, identity and shared values
  • External expertise and education to address gaps or advance knowledge
  • Informed community partners to provide insight into community needs, and the impact of charitable giving
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Governance Differentiators
What informs
families’ choices
  • Identified goals and objectives for giving
  • Family complexity, diversity and size
  • Life stages and generational levels of family members
  • Giving structure, vehicles and scale of giving