Newsletter Volume 11 (2009)

Letter from the Editor

In recent months, we have been asked to deconstruct the impact of Madoff, which requires a forensic analysis akin to one from an episode of CSI. Thousands of individuals and foundations have been affected by Bernard Madoff's scheme or have suffered economic losses due to a receding, bearish market. While we lament the foundations that have seen their corpuses contract or disappear, the impact on the nonprofits and NGOs they support is even graver. Given this new reality, the hard lesson we are learning is that individuals and foundations must become less passive and more strategic in stewarding their investments.

Many board members overseeing foundations rely on the financial expertise of family members to manage their investments; however, many have recently learned that trust in family must not trump fiduciary best practice. One next generation son with whom we consult says he never wanted to challenge his father's investment decisions until his and his sibling's philanthropic fund was lost to Madoff. Perhaps the silver lining of this crisis is that previously unspoken rules are being revisited. Families are developing investment policies-in some instances for the first time. Tradition and generational dynamics are starting to be supplemented with prudence and due diligence.

In this issue, we report on our search to uncover how relationships in multigenerational family foundations and businesses are being renegotiated. While experts offer much advice on how to ride out this economic downturn, we know that today's financial realities will propel change within the families behind these organizations. Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, claims that the current economic crisis is not a recession but "a great restructuring of the economy and society, starting with a fundamental change in our relationships-how we are linked and intertwined and how we act..." We are interested in hearing from you about strategies your foundation is using to confront economic challenges and the changes they may have catalyzed in your family. Please e-mail us at

Download Newsletter Volume 11


Download back issues of our quarterly 21/64 newsletters. To request additional hard copies for use with your family, foundation, federation or other community groups, please email your full name and mailing address to or call us at 212.931.0129.

  • "Glenmede, an independent investment and wealth management firm, has had the pleasure of hosting several workshops for our clients during which Sharna spoke about intergenerational issues and values. The audience was engaged for the entire presentation and everyone left with tools to open the discussion with their children and grandchildren about the values that are important to them and the legacy they would like to leave for future generations. We look forward to partnering with 21/64 on future multigenerational event."

    Nina Cohen, Glenmede

    Philanthropic Advisors Division