This came from the CEO and family member of a 180 year old Single Family Office we work with. Of course the family is large, disparate, and spread across the globe, with little in the way of commonality. They have found philanthropy a unifying force that binds and holds them together. The great-great-grandfather had the foresight to codify his aspirations and captured his wishes in a Family Constitution that required each and every member of the family, upon hitting the age of 16 to volunteer at a charity every other weekend for a year. This family practice continues today. The family, disparate as it is, comes together once a year, and one of the most enjoyable agenda items is family members pitching to each other how they want to utilise their philanthropic capital.

On a different scale, we work with another family consisting of two adults and three late teens. The parents are both hugely successful in their own right and are both wealth creators. Their approach to family philanthropy is more informal but no less thoughtful or effective.  Twice a year, sitting round the kitchen table, each family member presents their case. There are no boundaries as to cause, approach, or even appetite for risk.

As with the first family, each pitch has to be well researched with a compelling case put forward that articulates the need, the approach taken by the organisation and why and how it is effective.

In both these cases, and in many more families of varying wealth that we work with, the next generation is imbued with a sense of engagement of the wider world along with all of its problems and their place in it.  Effective philanthropy can give wealth a sense of purpose.

We have the privilege of working with hundreds of generous families supporting them in achieving their philanthropic aims. Our experiences have led us to partner with Family Office Council to dig deeper to understand more about the challenges that wealthy families face in their philanthropic endeavours. We facilitated a roundtable of twelve Single Family Offices and supported a white paper 'A Family Approach to Philanthropy and a lasting Family Foundation’ available here.  

The common themes from the families represented were around professionalising, sustaining, and engaging the next generation. A CAF Charitable Trust is the simplest way to professionalise philanthropy – taking the cumbersome administrative and reporting burden away and freeing up the family to enjoy and engage in their philanthropy. For those in need of support and advice, we have our own advisory service that helps families with everything from defining philanthropic goals, to strategy development and implementation, through to understanding the impact of their philanthropy.

Sustainability means different things to different families. For some, it is about sustaining their philanthropic capital so there is always money to give. For others, it is around creating a sustainable solution to the social issue they are passionate about. For others, it is sustaining the family engagement and commitment to philanthropy that is the focus.

Every family is different. Every family could do with a little glue.

Request a copy of the white paper to read more.