We recently reached out to the National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) to share their unique insights. As a network of philanthropic families committed to a world that is vibrant, equitable, and resilient, NCFP helps achieve greater impact with their giving.
As we approach the end of the year, many families will gather to decide where to make charitable gifts. It’s a process that can often be fraught: not only are there many options to choose from, the decisions also can collide with family dynamics and reflect a family’s core values and how it desires to make a difference in the world.
Of course, within a family or group of decision-makers, there is also often a range of viewpoints about all of the above, and specifically what creates impact or how to go about allocating philanthropic resources. Varying perspectives about the best path forward can lead to tension and disagreements, and can even prevent a family from making any decisions at all. Not only can this cause hard feelings, it can also impede impact.
To help navigate family decision making, it’s important to step back and consider how you are making those decisions. In group settings and family situations, people often default to familiar patterns, and wade through layers of implicit assumptions about whose voices hold more weight. Naming what decision is being made and how the decision process will happen can help break through unhelpful patterns and allow you to create new, more effective processes—ones that cause less friction and more impact.
Here are some questions to consider that can help you get started:
- Who will be involved in decision-making? Only family members? Are you including spouses? Children? Other advisors?
- How are you including the community that is impacted by this issue in your decision-making process?
- How will you make the decision? Will it have to be by consensus? Majority vote? Have you thought about other decision-making strategies?
- How long will you allocate for discussion?
- Do you have a back-up decision-making strategy? For example, if you select consensus as your desired approach for coming to agreement, but you can’t reach a consensus, will you fall back to a majority vote?
- What process will you have in place to handle conflict in the process?
- Who will facilitate the discussion? This may be a family member or sometimes a neutral facilitator is helpful.
Creating clarity about the decision-making process can go a long way toward taking the stress out of what can and should be a joyful process of making philanthropic gifts, in this and every season.
- National Center for Family Philanthropy’s guide to Demystifying Decision-Making in Family Philanthropy offers an overview of decision-making strategies.
- Fist to five is a voting process that can be useful.
You can find additional resources at the National Center for Family Philanthropy at ncfp.org.
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The National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) helps families realize the purpose and potential of philanthropy for meaningful impact. We promote learning and action through our community, programs, and services. We build knowledge and expertise to support your philanthropic journey. More information can be found at NCFP.org