Skip to main content

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 donors achieve greater impact with their giving.

Engaging the next generation in your family’s philanthropy requires thoughtful planning at any stage. Engaging them in a formal way as adults, however, is particularly complex. Adults come to the work with their own skills, experiences, and expertise, as well as their own priorities—be that their families, careers, or other responsibilities. NCFP’s Guide for Meaningfully Engaging Next Generation Adults in Your Philanthropy outlines ways the current managing generation can effectively welcome next generation leaders into the philanthropy such that it’s a rewarding experience for all and advances the philanthropy’s impact. The guide provides the following framework for the process of welcoming and engaging the next generation:

  1. Lay the groundwork
  2. Complete effective onboarding
  3. Continue to learn and grow together

Below, we offer our top tips for success at each phase.

1. Lay the Groundwork: Identify Guardrails and Open Gates
The managing generation is responsible for creating the conditions that will allow the next generation to succeed. Many of those conditions are predicated on careful reflection before extending a formal invitation. One critical component for the managing generation to reflect is to identify their guardrails and open gates. The managing generation needs to determine which pieces of the philanthropy are fixed, and which are flexible and to clearly communicate that to the next generation to avoid frustration and disappointment. For instance, we recommend that the managing generation considers the issues, geographies, and/or populations that they currently focus on and whether they are willing to adjust those priorities in the future.

2. Complete Effective Onboarding: Share a Clear Invitation
When you have laid the groundwork and are prepared to invite members of the next generation to join your philanthropy, we encourage you to do so by offering an explicit invitation, rather than to rely on unstated expectations or assumptions. A clear invitation includes information on the precise role, time commitment, and length of service as well as information about the philanthropy to date and what the managing generation hopes for the future. The managing generation should also note the expertise and experience they see in a next-generation individual and how those skills may contribute to their board service. Sharing a thorough and thoughtful invitation starts your philanthropic relationship off with a sense of respect for the next generation’s time, interest, and priorities, and allows room for negotiations and adjustments.

3. Continue to Learn and Grow Together: Practice (and Encourage) Humility
For the managing generation who have dedicated, often years, of time and energy to the philanthropy, welcoming individuals with new approaches and different life experiences can be a challenging change. While most next-generation leaders are open to learning and passionate about having an impact, they likely also want to make their own path. As the next generation brings their own ideas and perspectives to the table, it’s important that everyone practices humility. Doing so will strengthen relationships among family members and also help them recognize the privilege of stewardship and the knowledge and expertise within the communities they support.

Learn More
With a thoughtful process, all participants can bring skills and knowledge to the work, learn from each other, and support effective and impactful work. Learn more about the practices and considerations involved in each phase of engaging next-generation adults.

You can find additional resources at the National Center for Family Philanthropy 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!

Want to learn more about the ways we support private foundations?
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.

The National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) is a network of philanthropic families committed to a world that is vibrant, equitable, and resilient. NCFP offers programs, resources, and community to support more effective family philanthropy.

Back to Blog


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