The stereotypical family philanthropy is an affluent, monochromatic family foundation controlled by a dominant patriarch and his spouse, their elite Baby Boomer children and their spouses, with Gen X and Gen Y grandchildren waiting in the wings.
This all-too-pervasive view is less true by the day, if it was ever a true picture of family giving. Far-from-monolithic, each giving family is a dynamic universe of distinct personalities and family relationships. Communities of all kinds display incredible family giving traditions. And today’s giving families are increasingly as diverse as the communities they support. Family routinely crosses the lines of gender, race, faith, class, age, sexual orientation, ideology—you name it—to bring people together.
As a giving family, when you approach questions of diversity and inclusiveness, ask whether or not your family has access to the perspectives, experiences, talents, and resources it needs to be as successful as it can be in the pursuit of its charitable mission. Does your practice represent the communities you endeavor to help? If not to the extent you’d prefer, consider adding nonfamily seats to a board, forming a standing advisory committee, or convening grantees and community experts to inform and evaluate grantmaking. Additionally, consider the broader field and how your philanthropy might encourage the giving of other families, creating a philanthropic sector that’s as diverse as our families.
Explore the readings in this section to gain insight from giving families from all walks of life and find resources on maintaining and building a diverse family philanthropy.