Families with significant wealth often choose philanthropy (or setting up a family foundation) as a means of making the world a better place, often through the creation of private foundations to ensure that their money is effectively put to use for causes they are passionate about. This can also provide a new opportunity for next generation members to engage with their family enterprise, whether they choose to join the family business or not.

Just as with any other asset, it’s important for the family owners to be aligned on the mission and vision of the family foundation, whether it is a local or global focus, dedicated to one or two causes or many, proactive or reactionary. That’s where Banyan comes in.

Here are some representative examples of the work we do with family philanthropy:

Starting a Family Foundation

After selling one of the companies in his portfolio, the founder of a large business decided it was time for his family to support some of the causes they’d individually come to care about over the years in a more organized way. He made the decision to endow a family foundation. But now what? What impact did the family want to create through the foundation? How would they make decisions about where to give the money, especially since the family had interests in different areas? How could the founder retain some control over the foundation’s activities while also engaging the next generation? Did they need to establish a board, or hire a staff person?

Engaging the Next Generation

The second generation of a family enterprise decided it was time to begin engaging the third generation in the family’s philanthropic efforts. They hoped that doing so would help the next generation better understand the real world outside of the bubble of private planes, private schools, and private clubs that the family was increasingly living in. They also wanted to give the third generation some experience working together, in the hopes that it would begin preparing them for the eventual need to make decisions together about the family’s business and investment portfolio. How could they construct an activity that would enable substantive and meaningful collaboration? And how could they make sure the next generation gained the experiences they needed?

Re-energizing a Family Foundation

For years, the owners of a family business had been generously responding to community requests for support through their long standing family foundation. They’d contributed to a new wing at the local hospital, supported the symphony through some tough times, and spearheaded private funding for the renovation efforts at the local museum. But after a while, the family realized that this piecemeal approach was not having the kind of impact on the local community that they wanted. So they decided it was time to be more proactive with the family foundation. Rather than only being reactive, they wanted to dedicate part of their giving to an initiative that they would define and drive. But how would they reach alignment on the areas to focus? And how would they make a real difference in that area?

Succession Planning

Though the matriarch of a successful family business had led the family’s philanthropic foundation for years without any issues, she realized that planning a foundation’s leadership succession was not as simple as planning succession in the family business.  As public entities, foundations are governed by a different set of rules and regulations.  Succession planning, therefore, requires thought about the foundation’s governance, who gets to be involved from within the family, how to bring in appropriate independent directors without losing influence, and so on. What were the full set of issues the matriarch needed to focus on? And where was the best place to get started?

“Banyan helped us to organize what we wanted to do philanthropically. Now we have a shared mission and vision for our foundation.”
– Family Foundation leader

Our process starts by working with you to identify the objectives of your philanthropy, starting with a better understanding of what change in society you would like to help bring about. Our experience is that the most successful and sustainable families go further - they also think about what impact they want to have on their own family, such as developing the next generation or maintaining family unity. With those objectives in mind, we will help you to design the strategy, governance, and talent required to achieve your vision. If your plan is to continue your philanthropy over time, we will also work with you to plan for the transition to the next generation.

Let’s start a