Family Foundations: Learning into Practice

By: Jackson
Jackson is a participant in Allowance for Good's Winter 2015 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Explorers class.

As someone who is relatively familiar with philanthropy and who thinks that they know almost everything, I am delightfully surprised by how much the ELP Explorers class has taught me over the last few weeks. However, this week’s course in particular connected with me on a different level. Our class had the opportunity to speak with high-ranking members of various foundations and gain insight as to how philanthropy works outside of our office space.

The majority of our time was spent learning about family foundations. A family foundation is one whose funds are derived from the members of a family. We learned about how family foundations operate, how they determine their grantees, and what they do to ensure success. We also learned that simply donating money as a family is not the same as forming a family foundation. While donating money may be a charitable and generous thing that families do around a dinner table, family foundations make certain that those same donations provide long term aid for worthy organizations.

If given the opportunity to create my own family foundation, I would support three things: providing children with the proper resources for formal education, working to maintain the environment, and researching cures for disabilities and mental illness. In regards to education, I strongly believe that all children deserve an opportunity to learn and grow. Even though more children throughout the world are receiving a formal education, the numbers are still not where they could be. I believe that through proper emphasis and funding, every child in the world could someday say that they have been to school.

Next, I feel that maintaining the environment and creating a more eco-friendly society is crucial. With global warming intensifying by the day, it is time for us to change how we live. Specifically, I would fund efforts to increase the use of clean, reusable energy and decrease the burning of fossil fuels.

Illness and disability research is a cause that is very close to my heart. Various members of my family have suffered through Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other diseases. Though I do my best every day to support them, sometimes that is not enough. That is why, if I were to form a family foundation, I would strive to support these research organizations.

The ELP Explorers class has taught me so much about philanthropy and leadership. With the skills that I learn in this course, I hope to someday use them to make the world a healthier, cleaner, and generally better place.

Jackson discusses the definition of philanthropy with his classmate Arielle.