Ashmore Consulting

Family Foundations Ready for Next Generation

There is a good article in today’s New York Times about ways family foundations are getting ready for the next generation. It discusses the advantages and conflicts that come with bringing new generations on the board.  Different foundations handle it differently. Some let younger members sit in on board meetings but not vote. Others give the younger generation a separate pot of money to test board membership. But the most successful ones are the ones that are most open.

How do you remain open when multiple generations interpret foundation mission and goals differently? In the article, Zac Russell, of the Russell Foundation, said each generation “has a different view on the world…The question was how do we bring this together and trust it?”

Sometimes it is a matter of getting family to coalesce around foundation objectives. That often means conflict negotiation and strategic planning skills are needed and this is probably best facilitated by a third party, rather than a family member from one of the generations.

Family resentments, generational conflicts, and differing perspectives  can be normal for families.  A way to ameloriate differences is to get agreement on objectives with a common commitment to mission and goals.

Katherine Lorenz of the Cynthia and George Mitchell foundation said “outside advisers helped the family formulate its objectives”.

To read the complete article “Family Foundations Prepare for the Next Generation” by Paul Sullivan, New York Times, Feb. 8, 2013 click here.

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