by Robin Schein
In February, the Council on Foundations will bring together families from all over the country (and world!) to learn about and discuss the current issues affecting families who give. The 2012 Family Philanthropy Conference is not just for family foundations-it's for all families committed to philanthropy.
At The Minneapolis Foundation, we work with more than 500 donor-advised funds, each unique in size, focus area, and approach. As we aim to serve their individual needs, we have seen one commonality on the rise. Donor advisers are increasingly using their funds as tools for family philanthropy. We have donor advisers who make their children co-advisers, some who match their children's contributions to local nonprofits through their funds, and others who meet annually to make family decisions about their grant recommendations.
Likewise, we have donor advisers using their funds as part of estate planning with intentions to add to them upon their death and name their children successor advisers. Whether in their lifetime or after, we hear our donors ask questions about how philanthropy can best be used as a tool to bring their families together. How do they encourage their children to get involved in the community and give back? How do they work together to make the biggest impact?
The stories, experiences, and questions of the donor advisers I work with should sound fairly familiar. They are similar to those that family foundation trustees are asking themselves and striving to resolve. The value of attending the 2012 Family Philanthropy Conference lies in the ability to learn from each other, and share experiences and lessons learned. It is an opportunity to focus on what donor advisers and trustees have in common as family philanthropists, regardless of the different vehicles chosen to carry out the philanthropy.
Let's also not forget: We're talking about Miami in February. I'm from Minnesota. It's a bit of a no-brainer.
Robyn L. Schein is the donor services advisor for The Minneapolis Foundation, a member of the Council on Foundations.