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Packard Foundation Run by Siblings

Philanthropy can be a great way to increase family cohesiveness while stimulating strategic thinking and collective decision making. A case in point involves the four children of David Packard (as in Hewlett-Packard) who all sit on the family foundations board of directors which oversees 9% of the companys stock now worth almost $9 billion. Their task is to give away over $1 million a day in ways that are wise, focused, and effective.

As George Anders put it in The Wall Street Journal (March 6, 1998), “Now his four grown children face some of the toughest challenges of their lives. They must beef up the foundations management in a hurry, yet retain overall control. They must translate their fathers wishes into a coherent program, yet steer through controversies...whats more, three sisters and a brother must patch over their differences.

Packard formed the foundation in 1964. Parents and children met around the dining room table, making small philanthropic decisions. None of the children went into the business. Only one’s career is connected to the high-tech computer world that Hewlett-Packard helped to create.

But at age 21, each child was asked to become a foundation trustee. All accepted a responsibility for their familys legacy. Susan Packard Orr, 47, serves as chair of the board that also contains four seats filled by outsiders.

While your family’s philanthropic activities probably do not rival the Packard family in size or scope, you too can build cohesiveness among your children and encourage the disciplined use of private ownership for public needs.

 

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