Tag Archives: community

Learning from the Wealthy

Jennifer Pendergast
Jennifer Pendergast

History is full of examples of leading business families who have used their wealth to make the world a better place.  Witness the contributions of the Rockefellers, who have had a family foundation since 1913.  You will find this description on their website, “ In the years since John D. Rockefeller inaugurated the first global US foundation, scientists, scholars, economists, and grassroots leaders supported by the Foundation have spearheaded the search for solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems. Through their efforts, plagues such as hookworm and malaria have been brought under control; food production for the hungry in many parts of the world has been increased; and minds, hearts, and spirits have been lifted by the work of Foundation-assisted filmmakers, artists, writers, dancers, and composers.”  Similar examples can be found in reading about the Ford Foundation, where a recent headline states, “Ford Foundation grants $6 million to 7 organizations to reshape the global human rights movement”.  Or, a more recent entrant, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where the Global Health Division, one of four focus areas, aims to harness advances in science and technology to save lives in developing countries.  Regardless of where you stand on issues these families have chosen to tackle, it’s hard to deny that they have set their sights high and aspire to make a meaningful difference in the world. 

While the scope of these endeavors may be out of reach for most of us, every family, regardless of its wealth, has an opportunity to make a difference.  And, business owning families are in a prime position to do so, given their visibility in their communities and relationships with other well-connected people.

At your next family gathering, be it at the dinner table, conference table, or large family meeting, ask yourselves the question “What can we do together as a family to make a difference?” Think about the unique assets your family has that it can bring to bear to address an unsolved problem.  Often, creative use of assets at your disposal, scrap materials, distribution networks, excess warehouse capacity, can have much greater impact than writing a check. Regardless of the financial resources at your disposal, your family can make a difference. And, in doing so, you will find yourselves in good company.

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Creating community…

Anne Hargrave
Anne Hargrave

Last week’s Time Magazine article, The Last Politicians, highlights female senators, from both sides of the aisle, who have been engaging regularly with each other for decades over lunch, dinner, bridal showers and play-dates.  Over the years they have created an unwritten rule of refraining from publically criticizing one another; they focus on what unites them and on listening deeply.  By getting to know each other well, they have learned to value different life experiences and appreciate their colleague’s ability to approach a problem from a different perspective.  Family business owners who spend time together having fun may find that it’s much easier to make decisions together when times get tough. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Family Firms Triple Bottom Line

Joe Schmieder
Joe Schmieder

Lost in the commotion of last week’s Boston Marathon bombings on Monday, April 15, was the fact that many Americans, including family businesses, were scurrying about to sign off and send in their final tax forms for the 2012 tax year.  The season for “harried bean counters” has come to an end, or at least to a well-deserved break!  For weeks family firms, taxpayers and their supporting financial people have been buried in their offices, factories and homes adding up what we earned, spent, gained, lost and perhaps misplaced.   One thing that these tax people do very well is provide us with a quantitative tally of our financial position.  According to our family business clients, most family firms had another strong financial performance in 2012.  Yet for family businesses the financial results are not the only metric used to measure performance.  Many family firms think broader as some have developed the more encompassing concept of the triple bottom line: Economic, Environmental and Community.  Great family enterprises, while economically strong, are also stewards of the environment and often lead the development of eco-friendly products and practices.  These innovative efforts create jobs that support many families.  In addition, communities around the world benefit significantly from the philanthropy provided by these visionary family companies.  In the future the bean counters may find ways to also measure the long-term impact of these important contributions, which family firms make to society.

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