Suffering from seasonal gluttony syndrome?  Here’s a cure.

The winter holidays are right around the corner. Soon, many Americans will gather around the table with family and friends to give thanks for abundant blessings and freedoms as they indulge in a surfeit of delicious traditional foods. Leftovers will last for days. In December, people of different faiths and traditions will celebrate religious or…

The “secret sauce” of thriving 100-year families

When working with affluent families, I often hear the popular warning: “Shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves in three generations.” This quote suggests that a family’s wealth often disappears by the time it reaches the grandchildren of the wealth-creating generation. This saying is thought to derive from an even older English proverb: “There’s nobbut three generations atween a clog and…

In the eyes of business leaders, “social purpose” has replaced “shareholder capitalism”

Nearly 50 years ago, Milton Friedman launched the era of “shareholder capitalism.” At that time, the Nobel-Prize-winning economist admonished American business leaders that their only responsibility was to maximize profits. The world has changed a lot since then – for better and for worse. Some still espouse this theory. According to Friedman and his proponents, social…

Key lessons in strategic philanthropy

Nine years ago, I began working closely with families, family offices, businesses, and public and private foundations. My goal was (and is) to help them achieve greater impact for themselves and their communities through philanthropy. In the years since, the field of strategic philanthropy has evolved significantly. In addition, I’ve learned valuable lessons about what…

Don’t let disaster philanthropy become a philanthropic disaster

Hurricanes, floods, tornados, tsunamis, wildfires, earthquakes, droughts — and more. Such “natural” disasters are happening with greater frequency, many accelerated by our rapidly changing climate. “Man-made” disasters such as shootings at schools, concerts, houses of worship and workplaces are also occurring at alarming rates. All of these events result in loss of life as well…

Philanthropy is the ultimate “risk capital”

The definition of “risk capital” varies greatly depending on context. In the world of private equity, risk capital refers to the funds used for speculative, high-risk, high-reward investments. Depending on the success of the investment, it can either earn spectacular returns or dwindle to a fraction of the initial amount. In the charitable world, venture…

Philanthropy: It’s the best antidote to despair

Many people feel overwhelmed and disheartened by recent events. The media feature a steady stream of mass shootings at schools and houses of worship, terrorism, college admissions scandals, income inequality, global warming, opioid addiction, threats to our democracy, hate crimes, political dysfunction and a general loss of civility. These events, plus others, generate in many…

Corporate giving is on the rise — enhancing investor, employee and customer engagement

Across the United States, companies of all sizes increasingly recognize the importance of philanthropic community engagement. In 2017, those companies donated more than $20 billion to charitable causes. These businesses are using philanthropy to not only “do the right thing” but also to enhance the engagement of investors, employees and customers – all of which…

Understanding the “why” of impact investing

Impact investing is the rapidly expanding approach to financial markets that seeks to do well and to do good. It attempts to generate positive financial and social returns. Sustainable, responsible and impact-investing assets now account for $12 trillion of the $46.6 trillion in total assets under professional management in the United States. This is one of…