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NCFP is a guest author and contributor to our Outside Perspectives Series.

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.

Family philanthropy has many points of inflection – moments to embrace proven practices and advance momentum or stall out due to uncertainty and lack of clarity. The National Center for Family Philanthropy’s (NCFP) Family Giving Lifecycle (FGL) offers a framework that names those critical points and provides resources, guides and tools to orient donors toward effective outcomes.

The stages of the FGL are:

  • Philanthropic Purpose: defining why you give and what inspires you
  • Impact Vehicles & Structures: ensuring that form follows function and you have the vehicle(s) and structure(s) to best support your intended impact
  • Governance: establishing your decision-making principles, policies and practices
  • Impact Strategies & Tools: deploying your resources to achieve your philanthropic purpose
  • Assessment & Learning: creating a structured learning agenda and assessment plan
  • Operations & Management: developing efficient and robust operations and management support for your philanthropic work
  • Succession & Legacy: defining and building your legacy and preparing for transitions, including involving the next generation

While the framework provides an excellent starting point for new donors, it’s important to note that these are not “one and done” stages, but rather this is a true cycle. Families should continually revisit the questions raised in each of these stages to see if the decisions made in previous years (or by previous generations) still fit present circumstances as families and communities are in constant evolution.

For example, many family foundations are created by a founding generation, typically those who made the wealth that is the source of funds for the philanthropy. Those founders will often start out with a specific vision for the foundation, perhaps rooted around helping support people and organizations in the geographic area where the family lives. As new generations join the foundation’s board, it’s crucial that the family step back and reexamine their mission and vision statements, so that all the generations can weigh in and be part of affirming and/or refining the vision of the foundation and feel fully bought in. In addition, as new generations and voices join the governing structures of a foundation’s philanthropy, it’s important to look at policies and practices from the abstract (e.g., what is the culture of our board?) to the concrete (e.g., is the time of day/day of the week we meet still a good fit for these new board members?).

The FGL toolkit includes short overview videos, a glossary of terms used throughout the materials, primers with descriptions of fundamental topics in each of the lifecycle stages, as well as worksheets to guide donors and families through key questions and decisions.

The National Center for Family Philanthropy makes the FGL resources available to the field free of charge and we welcome you to use them in your philanthropic work. For further information or questions, please contact or visit their website at

Want to contribute to our Outside Perspectives Series and share your philanthropic insights? Write to us at  for a chance to be featured in an upcoming blog!

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Whether you are looking for support for your existing foundation or want to create a private foundation, our philanthropic specialists are here to help. To learn more, schedule a call with us or reach us at 800-839-0054. Together, let’s #begiving.

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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