When I began my work as a philanthropy coach and advisor in 2018, I readily understood that I was weaving together a tapestry of more than 25 years of professional experiences. I had spent my entire career in a learning by doing mode – matching people with board service and community engagement opportunities, leading a nonprofit organization and a family foundation, and building systems to support and serve as many deserving students, partners, and recipients as resources could provide. I understood the profound impact of philanthropy and community engagement in the lives of individuals and communities, as well as society at large. I was convinced that I had lived experience with multiple perspectives and was well positioned to guide and advise others on a customized and purposeful engagement strategy.

What I had not anticipated in doing work primarily focused on family philanthropy, is that for families who have chosen to do this work collectively and intentionally, it can be all at once challenging, deeply personal, binding, and intensely rewarding. Working together as individuals in a larger unit can have a profound impact on one’s family. I have had the privilege of bearing witness to a multitude of family conversations and decision making as they collectively explore and pursue their commitment to give back, engage, and make a difference. For many families, it is the first time that they have had open and honest conversations about what matters to them and why.

Family philanthropy can be both a family value in itself and a way to express collective values.
Imagine what’s possible when you have the opportunity to live your shared values
as a family for the benefit of your self, your family and society. Read more here.

What I’m Learning: Family Systems and Knowing Your Family Story
How do you know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been? Learning about the generations that came before you is important to understand not only your family history, but generational patterns. Behavior and values are shaped by the generations that preceded us, and in turn, we will influence successive generations. Understanding family systems, and in particular, how your family operates, can influence the development and success of a family’s philanthropy. Read more about the role of family systems, values, and philanthropy here.

“In every conceivable way, the family is a link to the past and a bridge to the future.”
-Alex Haley

What I’m Sharing: Navigating Difficult Conversations in Philanthropy
Families are unique and each family comes with its own complex history, family dynamics, and issues. As families consider working together in such an important endeavor, it is critical to consider and think through key decision points in laying the foundation for family philanthropy. Read more here.

What I’m Practicing: Family Mission Statement
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, says, “A family mission statement is a combined unified expression from all family members of what your family is all about – what it is you really want to do and be – and the principles you choose to govern your family life.” Nearly 15 years ago, my husband and I sat down with our two young sons to create a Family Mission Statement. The intention was to live our lives on purpose. Although the document itself did not remain front and center for all of us to see, I am pleasantly surprised that we have, for the most part, lived out the values that we articulated at that time.Time to dust if off and do it again!  Click here to read (and see) the Holdsman Family Mission Statement.

Like branches on a tree.
We all grow in different directions,
yet our roots remain as one.

In Service to Self, Family and Society
I work with people as they engage multiple generations of their family in philanthropic activities. Together, we identify a shared value system for philanthropic work; and determine the pathway forward while honoring family history and share stories of success for strategic impact. We start with why.

Click here to learn more and begin a conversation.

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