Beyond the Family: An Ecosystem Approach to Family Philanthropy

Beyond the Family: An Ecosystem Approach to Family Philanthropy

The success of family philanthropy is dependent on the willingness of the family to embrace an ecosystem of partners. In fact, the most effective philanthropic leaders recognize that the family operates in relationship to many others—most importantly community and staff members. Embracing an ecosystem approach to philanthropy, which focuses on building and respecting relationships to others in the system, is an essential element of creating lasting impact.  

A terrific example of a family philanthropy that uses an ecosystem approach in its work is the Bainum Family Foundation. In 1968, Stewart Bainum Sr. and Jane Bainum established the Bainum Family Foundation, spurred by the lasting impact of the poverty they and their families experienced during the Great Depression. They started the organization in Washington, DC to assist students of limited financial resources pursue post-secondary education. Over the years, the foundation has shifted its work in response to community needs, reflection, and learning. 

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Source: National Center on Family Philanthropy


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