Book cover of Splendid Legacy 2. Brown background with abstract art.Blog post on Splendid Legacy was originally Published by the National Centre for Family Philanthropy, 2017

Let me start off by saying, that as someone has been advising individuals, families and family enterprises in their legacy planning, philanthropy and social capital management for over two decades Splendid Legacy 2 is a welcomed resource to my library.  It is a hefty book that is filled with process, case studies, samples and additional resources.  It is NOT a workbook and as such, the reader is required to have additional tools in his or her toolbox to layer over-top what is presented.

Splendid Legacy 2 is is structured to support the role of the advisor AND the role of the philanthropist.  Something that I appreciate, as there are times when I find that I have to “translate” what is being provided as a resource to families.  The book walks the reader through a systematized approach to planning out their legacy from articulating the individual and family values that shape the mission and vision, leading into governance and operations, there is also a piece on corporate structure and the role of family offices (something that I haven’t seen in other legacy planning resources) and financial/fiduciary roles and responsibilities.  

Splendid Legacy 2 – Highlights & Key Take-Aways

For this report, I want to highlight a couple sections that speaks to the effectiveness of how the book is structured and the content therein.

Use of case studies: Ethical Decision-Making.  This might seem obvious that if you are setting up a foundation or doing something for the benefit of society that ethical decision making would naturally be considered.  In this section the reader is asked, “How do we balance the three perspectives [Consequences, Principles and Character] in foundation decision making?” The case study that backs this question up, encouraging deeper exploration, is one where the founder is no-longer available to guide the decision making and the Next Generation are passionately involved (i.e. emotionally attached) to funding specific projects that may, or may not, fully align with the history of the foundation.  What follows is a breakdown of the decision making process and how the reader might apply different tools and approaches to navigating the question/challenge posed.

Use of real named family foundations and their documented experiences: When I work with founders we go through an exercise of what they want their kids or inheritors of their legacy to know to help that generation or group manage the foundation when the founder is gone.  This is an emotional conversation, however, when couched in the context of SMART philanthropy we cover off some key things, as Susan Packard Orr points out in this chapter, “…Here are some things I wish our founders had told us…”  Having the voice of a Next Generation Trustee expressing her wishes for what guidance could have been left behind reinforces the structure of this book – theory, case study and real-life experience.

Discussion Questions: When you’ve met one Philanthropist or one Enterprising Family, you have met one Philanthropist or Enterprising Family.  The presenting problems and characteristics may be similar to other clients that you have, but culture and the values that drive those presenting problems is unique to that family or individual.  Splendid Legacy 2, takes this into account by providing thought provoking discussion questions through the chapters and as opening paragraphs into different sections.  On page 104 and 105, there is a set of questions around what is fairness and who is family. For those who have gone through the Family Enterprise Advising program there is a much discussion around Fairness and Equality and how a family defines family.  What follows in this book are different models that other families have adopted and how those models were be applied (the What and the How). In these cases, what was evidenced is the fact that the families never lost sight of the “Why” they were doing what they were doing as a foundation and as a leadership group.  Splendid Legacy 2 keeps reinforcing that all actions go back to what was initially done – articulating values and stating mission.


Where I think this book falls short is in providing samples of working documents to alongside the case studies.  The most noticeable is in the section on Financial and Fiduciary Roles (pgs. 168-197). It is my impression that most portfolio managers working with these types of individuals and families who have already established histories of philanthropy and social impact investing consider the culture and social alignment asset base of the fund. Recognizing that this book is geared towards those just starting out, or those who are conducting a review of their foundation, this chapter is really about being armed with some examples of portfolios and processes that foundations have undertaken to align their social objectives with their asset management. If there is anything that I would suggest to put into this chapter, it would be a sample RFP that a foundation can send out to prospective portfolio managers.  The questions for interviewing managers come after a firm or portfolio manager responds to an RFP and this one piece seems to be missing from this chapter.

This is a book that should be on every advisor’s bookshelf. In the short time that I have had it, I have referenced to three families that are at different stages in their foundation’s evolution.