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The Family Business Leader Podcast

Mar 28, 2018


Colleen Mitchell is the founder of Venture3Philanthropy, a global philanthropic advisory firm. In her role, Colleen helps clients across generations get started in philanthropy. Her work with families can include developing strategies for giving, identifying purposeful work based on their values, creating legacy plans, coaching, acting as a sounding board, and more.

In this conversation, Colleen and I walk through her three-step process for getting started in philanthropy, which includes asking clients: 1. Why do you give? 2. What’s important to you? 3. What will success look like? We touch on different giving vehicles (i.e private foundation, trust, donor advised fund) and considerations for choosing the one that’s right for a donors situation and goals. We also discuss the different approaches donors of different generations take when it comes to philanthropy. Her experiences with next generation donors align with what we heard from Michael Moody in episode 006 of this podcast—Join the Philanthropic Revolution.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Meet Colleen (1:57)
  • Who does Venture3Philanthropy serve? (5:56)
  • Step 1: Why do you give? (13:12)
  • Step 2: What’s important to you? (17:20)
  • Step 3  What does success look like? (21:45)
  • Selecting the appropriate giving vehicle (24:39)
  • Corporate philanthropy (28:41)
  • Engaging the next generation in philanthropy (33:08)
  • Truth: Family philanthropy is not for everyone (38:40)
  • Lessons learned (42:53)
  • How to find Colleen (44:44)
  • Favorite resources (45:05)
  • Bonus questions (46:00)

Guest Bio:

Colleen Mitchell created a professional philanthropy advisory practice in 2010 to uniquely apply her broad knowledge and seasoned experience by responding to a call to service.  Colleen has dedicated her professional life to working closely with those who share her passion for advancing philanthropy for the benefit of people in local communities as well as global society.

Colleen’s philanthropy advisory practice provides individual coaching and advice, as well as leadership in the operations and process of organizational effectiveness.  Colleen partners to create innovative giving and investing strategies to support donors and their families, their professional investment and legal advisers, foundation grant makers & membership associations, as well as social entrepreneurs.   As a respected career professional in global philanthropy, Colleen’s work has spanned nearly three decades throughout the public, private and non-profit/NGO sectors, comprised of experience with donor engagement and stewardship, family foundation and corporate grant making, brand marketing and sales leadership as well as fundraising.

Prior to establishing a philanthropy advisory practice, Colleen served as President of NorthShore University HealthSystem Foundation in Evanston, IL.  During the height of the recent global recession, Colleen, her staff team, Board, Physician Philanthropy Champions and volunteers raised more than $45M of private charitable support for clinical programs, research and the medically-underserved.

For nearly a decade at Whirlpool Corporation, Colleen served as President of Whirlpool Foundation.  Colleen transformed the corporate foundation, globally, and grew the fund balance by more than 200 percent while increasing grant making to support global manufacturing communities, aligned to customer values.  Colleen designed and implemented a global education program, Women: The New Providers, reflecting a North American and Western Europe, multi-country social research and public awareness initiative, published in eight countries and five languages.  The global studies generated more than one billion media impressions in their first year, valued at $36M, covered in respected media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times and CNN, to name a few.

Notable & Quotable:

When it comes to philanthropy… Keep it simple, keep it enjoyable, make sure it’s truly impactful. —Colleen Mitchell #successfulgenerations

$10M is the critical mass of assets in a private foundation where a multi-generational family can have enough resources at the 5 percent payout to engage the interests of everyone around the table. —Colleen Mitchell #successfulgenerations

In the eight years I’ve been serving multi-generational families, I’ve seen a considerable shift away from private foundations to donor advised funds. —Colleen Mitchell #successfulgenerations

Regarding corporate philanthropy… Look for opportunities when it makes sense to tie the branding, identify, image and culture of the company to how they want to show up publicly in serving and supporting others. It’s also a great opportunity to engage employees. —Colleen Mitchell #successfulgenerations

Every couple and family is a fingerprint—they’re all different. —Colleen Mitchell #successfulgenerations

Philanthropy is such a personal space. People are talking about things that are private and personal. It touches their heart and spirit.  It’s a living laboratory; on hallowed ground.—Colleen Mitchell #successfulgenerations

Families who do multi-gen philanthropy well start with acknowledging the dignity and respect with where each family member is in their life journey. —Colleen Mitchell #successfulgenerations

The advice I would give my 20-year-old self is always run things through the test “Is it life-giving to me”? —Colleen Mitchell #successfulgenerations

Resources mentioned in this episode:


Regional Associations—find yours here


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