Summit on Philanthropy and the Role of the Family Enterprise
This week I've had the honour and privledge of leading a day-long summit on philanthropy alongside Deborah Goldstein, Enlightened Philanthropy and John A. Warnick of the Purposeful Planning Institute. This summit covered five key areas within the giving space and drew upon expertise from the likes of Bruce Deboskey, Tracy Gary and Joanie Bronfman.
In addition to philanthropy advisors like myself and those mentioned above, we also had representatives from well-established large charities including the Weizmann Institute and the YMCA of North America, providing their perspectives from the recipient point of view.
Obviously, a discussion about philanthropy would not be complete without the donors alongside their financial and legal advisors (or as the industry as deemed Trusted Advisor). Firms represented ranged from boutique wealth management agencies in the mid-west to major investment houses like Fidelity and Ascent.
The impetus for this summit was the fact that in 2000 US Trust released a study on the relationship between advisors and clients and their roles in the philanthropy conversation. In 2013 (a copy is attached to this blog) they revisited this study and found that there had been no significant changes in how Trusted Advisors were engaging their clients in the social capital and philanthropy discussions. As someone who has built her business around working with advisors and their clients in developing and implementing strategic giving plans, I felt it was important to identify what the needs of the market are so that I, and others in my field, could better support the efforts of advisors around engaging their clients in strategic philanthropy and the ability to generate social impact.
As a result of a few months of planning and research we came up with five key areas for deeper discussion:
The role of the Trusted Advisor and their relationship with Philanthropy Advisors
Motivations for Giving
Women in Philanthropy
The Rising Generation and Philanthropy
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Family Enterprise (this was later expanded to include all size and types of companies, not just family-owned)
My area of interest was in point five - CSR and the Family Enterprise. I am intrigued with this topic because there is so little written about the role of small and medium sized businesses and their corporate citizenship policies. Many of these businesses are family owned, so all the more reason we need to create a body of knowledge and best practices to support these companies and families.
When we talk about CSR and all the other jargon that comes along with it - Shared Value, Blended Value, Triple Bottom Line, etc. we seem to overlook that family enterprises that have been practising this type of business management for several generations. In my career I have come to realize, similar to what Mark Kramer, Michael Porter and Jed Emerson have written about, that good corporate citizenship programs in family businesses have the same characteristics:
- Shared social agenda → The social objectives of all the stakeholders (family, business and charity) are the same
- Measurement is based on the shared agenda that has been articulated and failure is expected as
- Networks are opened - It is expected that individuals will bring their connections to the table to further advance the agenda and push the needle on the social objectives
- Fee-for-service v. Donation - Companies seeking services from charities (i.e. counselling support for employees) should consider the value of the fees requested to perform this service as opposed to simply making a donation to the counselling centre as a way to offset the service provided. This speaks to sustainability and scalability of the service/organization.
- Ongoing communication is a must - Failures and successes need to be shared and iterated upon
There is an organization in Boulder, CO called the Entrepreneur’s Foundation. Start-up companies donate 1% of their shares and/or profit to the community foundation in the anticipation that when their company becomes successful it has made a significant donation back to the community. More importantly it has integrated into its DNA a component of community engagement and citizenship that can be shared and built upon with its future employees and customers.
What does your own company’s CSR and corporate citizenship program look like? Do you touch on the five points shared above? What is working well and what isn't? How do you share your experiences with your stakeholders? What about sharing with the broader business community? Tell us your story so we can share it out with our network of business owners, financial and legal advisors and donors.