I established my family foundation for a variety of reasons, some of which I understood at the time and others that I have only now begun to appreciate. I recognized that I had been sufficiently successful in my business to provide for my family and to leave a contribution to my community. I'm not sure I realized how difficult this decision would be to implement and how much I needed to learn.
My own experience, which I suspect is not much different from many others, has taught me the difficulty in planning intelligently, in giving to others thoughtfully and in teaching my children to participate in the process. I started my foundation the same way I had run my business. I retained control and set the course. Over time, I have learned to step back and invite others in.
My initial direction was to focus on big gifts, make a big difference with a few important organizations and become personally involved in the process. I joined the boards of several of these organizations and found myself immersed in the activities of the recipients. I learned in a short time the real contribution that these institutions are making in the community. I also learned how difficult it is for them to raise funds. I saw some inefficiency in the process, but I picked up some valuable ideas about grantmaking, donor recognition and community service.
In recent years, our foundation has become more focused on our own style of philanthropy. We enjoy stimulating the same entrepreneurship in organizations that we profited by in business. For us, the innovative, the creative and the bold offer some new direction in education, arts, science and human services.
As my wife and I became more comfortable with our own role in the foundation, I began to realize the benefit that this entity could have on our children. Each brings a special insight and talent that can serve our foundation well. I never cease to marvel at how much my kids have to say when I stop talking.
Throughout the last several years, we have learned by listening to our professional advisors, involving them in the foundation's administrative activities and grantmaking opportunities, and by seeking the counsel of other founders and participants in large and small foundations and associations. We've much more to learn, but some of our mistakes and certainly much of our uncertainty would have been avoided had we a single source of written guidelines to consult. The information contained in this brochure may help to bridge that gap.
I thought that, when I began to withdraw from my active business life, I would have endless hours of rest and relaxation, and feared that I would suffer boredom and indifference. My involvement in philanthropy, including my own foundation and many of the organizations we chose to support, has immersed me in a new and challenging world. I am busier than ever, using my skills and experience, and learning as I go.
Establishing and running a family foundation is not for those easily bothered by rules and regulations. On the other hand, for those who enjoy giving to others, who like to see the effect of caring on one’s own children and grandchildren, and who want to leave a legacy for the future, then I welcome you to the world of philanthropy and the family foundation.
George N. Boone
Boone Family Foundation, San Marino, California
Year established: 1983