Giving As a Team Sport

Date: Nov 14 2022

We are a team of large-scale donors, philanthropy advisors and technologists committed to making philanthropy more accessible, effective and meaningful. We are primarily funded by a family office and have focused our product development on solving the challenges of effectively managing the complex philanthropy efforts typical in a family office. Because Giving Place is "by family, for family" and is specifically designed with family offices in mind, our lineage has helped us create a solution uniquely focused on the intersecting needs of donors, their families and advisors (philanthropy, accounting, and wealth).

Successful sports teams create a winning culture from the top down. They understand that everyone plays a role in the franchise’s success. We believe families can “win” in their philanthropy too by utilizing their full “team”. We define the “team” as family office and operating business professionals plus external wealth, accounting, tax and philanthropy advisors, to name a few. Enabling a “team” approach to philanthropy creates a much more effective and more satisfying donor (and “team”) experience.

Without help from the team, going it alone can be a real challenge! We speak to families all the time that feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of giving significant amounts. Let’s use >$100,000 of annual giving as a starting point and include those with large endowments in donor advised funds (DAFs) or private foundations. We hear from these families that they often feel “stuck” in neutral. 

When families describe what "stuck” feels like, we often hear they…

  • Want to be effective and have impact without philanthropy being a full-time job
  • Feel stressed about the administrative and compliance tasks of giving
  • Say “yes” to lots of donation requests, but at the expense of finding and furthering their own passions
  • Find it challenging to assess and implement “best practices” from the multitude of books, consultants, white papers, blog posts and databases generated by the philanthropy “industry”
  • Are frustrated by the difficulty of getting quick answers and meaningful insights about past donations

If you have heard or experienced some similar frustrations, below are common scenarios we’ve seen with families that might resonate with you. And we’d like to share a point of view on how these moments of frustration or missed opportunities can be positively transformed when a “team-based” approach is taken; that is, when a family office and broader team are equipped to advance a family or donor’s charitable intentions.

Scenario 1: Transparent record keeping => Team anticipating and planning instead of reacting

Donor: “I am pretty sure I donated to XYZ charity for the last two years”.

Current Reality: Time flies!  Turns out the last donation was actually 2019.


Donor: “Where are we on the multi-year commitment?”

Current Reality: It can take hours (and sometimes days) to track down these answers, internally or with a donor’s charitable partners.

Team-based Philanthropy: Creating an easily searchable and accessible record that consolidates all forms of charitable activity empowers the team to quickly identify patterns and anticipate regular gifts, thereby avoiding obvious funding gaps and creating more donor confidence.

Scenario 2: Assuring IRS compliance and quality due diligence

Donor: “We’re excited to attend the upcoming charitable Gala and want to make additional support”

Current Reality: Even charities frequently get these rules wrong and give bad advice to their donors! Most are not aware of bifurcation rules and then (erroneously) attempt to donate the charitable portion from the DAF or private foundation and the goods and services as a direct gift.

Team-based Philanthropy: Providing team members with clear, actionable recommendations on how best to execute any grant can enable them to present the most favorable tax option, ensure anonymity, or accomplish other family goals while also complying with IRS requirements.

Scenario 3:  Creating transparency with giving goals, either aspirational ones or budgets to track

Donor: “I’ve received several inbound requests for major gifts and am not sure whether I should do them.”

Current Reality: The donor does not have a total giving goal (their aspiration or a stretch scenario), and the team does not have an immediate answer to a donor’s capacity to fulfill potential opportunities.


Donor: “I was not paying attention to how the private foundation was tracking against its minimum annual distribution requirement (MDR).”

Current Reality: An external tax advisor or internal accounting team may have calculated the MDR. Everyone gets busy or does not have this information, and then it can be a mad rush at year-end to comply with the MDR. In some (rare) cases, private foundations miss it entirely.

Team-based Philanthropy: Set and collectively track, in real-time, goals (a donor’s aspiration to be more generous) or budgets (based on requirements like the MDR, or a specific tax-optimal target shared by a tax advisor). Ensure the team has a clear sense of how these goals fit into a donor’s overall liquidity and tax situation. Maintain clear and consistent communication around these goals and budgets.

In addition to transforming scenarios like these, we’ve seen donors and families derive additional benefits with a team-based approach to philanthropy…

  • Making better and more informed decisions when the team has ready answers to family inquiries
  • Removing the administrative burden of giving so the team has the tools they need to provide exceptional donor support
  • Enabling donors to have greater confidence and more fulfillment without additional time burdens or cost
  • Increasing trust and collaboration with advisors as they are empowered to present insights, recommendations or suggestions that align with and further family charitable goals

Case Study Extract:

Equipping a team to help with family philanthropy not only helps with gift execution, but also deepens the relationship with the client/family. We were recently speaking to a client – the principal of a family office, along with other family office team members, about the insights gleaned from a recent consolidation of thousands of family donations – when he spontaneously offered his views on the family’s giving program and philosophy/mission. The family office team, which sends out over 150 charity checks each year for the family, had not heard the principal ever articulate these views. It was revelatory for them – and empowering. Now the team had more context on how to help the family. The team was now part of more enriching, two-way discussions, feeling more connected to the family they serve and better able to anticipate their needs.


Most families want and welcome the support from their extended team. Their team of advisors genuinely seek opportunities to enhance and deepen the relationships with the families they serve. Approaching philanthropy as a team sport allows all parties to win.