I had a chance to hear Tracy Gary at the Association of Fundraising Professionals at Lee Park in Dallas last week. She called me from the audience to say a few words about planned giving and the role of advisors. Selected high points:
- In Lee Park's Arlington Hall, Tracy Gary speaking eloquently about social justice and what she learned from her African American servants growing up in the Pillsbury family. "What would you like the change or preserve in the world?," she challenged the audience.
- Sitting with Tracy, in the Lee Room, beneath a portrait of Robert E. Lee, discussing gender roles in wealthy families. When I said I thought the woman's vision should govern more than the philanthropic budget, that I thought men and women in a family ought to hash out a shared vision that would govern the family's total assets and income, Tracy smiled and said, "Pre-nup, Phil. Think pre-nup." Yes, since then I have been thinking about how pre-nups and also trusts, set up by husband's and fathers, can govern a family in such a way that the woman or the heir may have all the vision in the world, but never touch principal. (For some fine videos in and around these topics, by Kathryn Davision, go to fortunateisles, and click on the movie canister on the map.)
- Reflecting later on how Tracy, her More than Money friends, and her friends at Bolder Giving have given away so much - sometimes half or sometimes all - I wondered if the system is not really wiser than it might appear. The hard headed one makes the money, and the kind hearted one is kept on a short leash, doing good - but not too much good, lest the system that supports her giving be supplanted or drained.
- A big corporation has "silos" to generate and manage wealth and "silos" to do public relations and philanthropy. Maybe some wealthy families go at it that way too. Even then, though, there could be a shared vision, as long as a little slack is left in the system for hypocrisy. If we want our idealistic women folk to be spared that, we men must keep them in dark. Having come to that conclusion, I decided that my wife is far too well informed.
I feel very tentative writing about gender. What keeps me going is that several women have written me or taken me aside to thank me. I doubt I have any of this right, and dealing in stereotypes is always dangerous. I simply feel that the highest vision and best informed vision a family has should prevail and govern its overall plan. For that to be possible men and women must participate as peers. Admittedly, this is not so in many cases today.