At last week’s stimulating Council on Foundations meeting in San Francisco I was struck by two seemingly contradictory ideas: first (as is true every year, I suppose) an emphasis on the new for the benefit of the “newbies” he have come n the scene; and second the idea that there is much that can be done by foundations that is left by the side of the road.
The old: running a family foundation is a lot like running any business or nonprofit. Direction, leadership, persistence, and attention to the details of product and money mark the successful enterprise.
The new: (at leasts to me) a surprisingly large number of family foundations operate without much regard for transparency, the minimal accountability except as required by law, and with scant regard for communicating their mission, values or grant making to their community or to the general public.
FFM/C is a fairly new player in this environment. We are committed to openness, candor, clarity of expression and let’s-get-it-done. What I liked most about the CoF meeting was the large number of young people in attendance; men and women ready to disrupt the comfortable but within the ground rules of effective philanthropy. Very refreshing.
For the new and emerging family foundation this is an exciting moment because of the confluence of creative grant-making, rapidly evolving social media opportunities and the generational change under way here, as in all organizations. The passing of generations has always been with us of course but I sense exceptional challenges and a faster pace.