Small and Family Foundations Roundtable


Sean Parker is one of this summer’s most talked about philanthropists. In June, Parker, most widely known as co-founder of Napster and founding president of Facebook, announced a $600 million contribution to launch The Parker Foundation. That same week, The Wall Street Journal published Parker’s essay, “Sean Parker: Philanthropy for Hackers.” In his essay, Parker discusses how using the hacker mind-set to solve big social issues can be more impactful than “conventional” philanthropy. Parker argues that in order to “avoid the pitfalls of philanthropic decay,” philanthropists should spend down their philanthropic assets during their own lifetime. He also advocates for embracing the value in failure and that the genuine commitment to service and a deeply felt sense of purpose must override a need for frequent and recognized success.

The roundtable discussion started with the following questions:

  • Does your foundation encompass any of the hacker characteristics that Parker writes about?
  • Do you think that Parker’s perception of philanthropy for hackers versus “conventional” philanthropy is accurate?

At the group’s suggestion at our May roundtable, we  invited one small and family foundation member to share with the group about a project or focus area that they are currently working on. This time, we heard from Bob Withers of the Pastoral Care Donor Advised Fund.

A special thanks to the Carstens Family Fund and the Hickey Family Foundation

for sponsoring this affinity group!