In large family-run businesses with a philanthropic bent, there is inevitable overlap and uncertainty regarding the roles played by the personal family philanthropy and the corporate philanthropy. This is by no means uncommon; however it needs to be addressed sooner rather than later in order to avoid missteps in the future.
A very large European family realized that, after so many years of starting up new foundations, there was a significant overlap within the focus areas as well as the governance structures of the various philanthropic entities. As this situation had the potential of creating serious conflict within the family, including perceived conflicts of interest, we were mandated to come up with recommendations on how to improve the governance.
We benchmarked the strategy and governance of the foundations against other large European foundations with family businesses behind them. Based on our analysis and subsequent recommendations, the family was able to restructure their entire philanthropic vehicle by making clear delineations – even shutting one foundation down. Based on our experience with similarly large governance structures, we then were able to help them to differentiate more strictly between the thematic areas and the philanthropic tools employed. We also ran a workshop to help the family understand how they could avoid real as well as perceived conflicts of interest.