Many private foundations are started with the express goal of uniting generations of the family in charitable work. But family members don’t always stay put. Instead, they move away to attend school, pursue a career, or start a family of their own. For any foundation, geographic dispersion can imperil the dream of a family united through good work. It’s tough to keep everyone interested and involved in the foundation’s area of focus when members are scattered around the country or even around the globe. But for a foundation with a specific focus on its home community, the challenge to remain viable and effective is even more daunting. This article shares ideas and options for foundations whose members no longer call the same community home.
[callout]It’s tough to keep everyone interested and involved in the foundation’s area of focus when members are scattered around the country or even around the globe.[/callout]
Sometimes, the members of the foundation who have moved away simply aren’t interested in participating. It isn’t a question of keeping them engaged in the work of the foundation—they’re just too busy with their own lives or insufficiently tethered to their birthplace community to stay actively involved. In other situations, family dynamics make it difficult to do anything collectively, including philanthropy. And in still others, the founders of the foundation are simply not amenable to change. Whatever the reason, these scenarios dictate that the foundation maintain its original scope and continue its work in the family’s home community. Dispersed members could take less of an active role (or no role whatsoever) while those family members still based in the home community would take the lead.