Covid-19 Resources for Family Owners

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March 2020

In this time of global crisis, we offer these insights to family enterprise owners and leaders to support you in the important decisions facing you today and in the days to come. We have gathered resources to aid you on multiple fronts, as an owner, philanthropist, wealth holder and leader.

We are committed to supporting family enterprises through this challenging time.

To that end, we are exploring doing a series of Covid Crisis Online Video Forums and invite you to participate. These forums will convene small groups of family enterprise stakeholders to share emerging concerns, potential solutions, resources, and best practices during the COVID crisis.

Please click the link to the right and take a short survey so we can send you details and place you in the appropriate group.


Family Enterprise Owner

While business leadership is responsible for crisis planning, owners have a responsibility to inform themselves about the impact of the crisis on their business holdings and ensure that actions taken to support enterprise stakeholders, including employees and customers, are aligned with family values and vision.

While we are bombarded on a minute-by-minute basis by the media, you might consider business related resources. An example is the crisis center provided on the website of global law firm McDermott Will & Emery: McDermott's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Your family advisors - estate planners, lawyers, wealth managers and accountants - may offer similar crisis centers. A quick search online should provide a wealth of valuable business resources

Also specific to role as family business owner, it is useful to think about how to manage the multiple sources of risk associated with COVID. Kellogg adjunct faculty member Devin DeCiantis provides this resource on managing risk: Lansberg Gersick & Associates Crisis Response Portal.



The COVID crisis has driven a need for philanthropic dollars on multiple fronts. As you consider where to give, a primary piece of advice is to deploy these dollars quickly. There are immediate needs and acting now can have a significant effect. JP Morgan Sr. Philanthropic Advisor Sarah Berg suggests you start with organizations you know. Reach out to identify how they are addressing the crisis. Consider unrestricted dollars so they can be flexible in addressing real-time needs.

Many families are focusing efforts on their personal communities or those where they employ people. Community foundations are a great place to give, and are in a position to quickly establish giving vehicles tied to the crisis. See, for example, the Chicago Community Trust's COVID Response Fund.

Kellogg Professor Meghan Kashner shares some ideas you what your business can do to help the community in this Kellogg Insight article: What Your Business Can Do to Help the Community During the Coronavirus Crisis.

If you want to give at a more national or international level, consider the CDC Foundation or the joint efforts of the UN Foundation and World Health Organization. For more information on national or international giving opportunities visit the Fidelity Charitable guidance page which will continuously be updated with new information.

For further education on COVID-related giving, take a look at these organizations:

Lastly, please be wary of scams! Unless you are intimately familiar with the founders, avoid new charities or GoFundMe pages.


Wealth Holder

Family enterprise owners control wealth both within and beyond their core business assets. Wealth holders should be in touch with their estate planning resources to understand the impact of the crisis on market holdings as well as valuation of their business assets. If you have transferred shares recently, which have been devalued due to the current economic situation, you may have an opportunity to reverse or mitigate that action. If you are considering a generational transfer, now may be an optimal time to make a transfer. However, as with any generational transfer, we warn against acting quickly without fully considering the longer-term impact of your gift. Minimizing taxes is just one consideration in generational giving.

The impact on market assets has been significant and the volatility and uncertainty of the situation can be quite distressing. Your financial advisors can provide resources that are routinely updated.

Examples include:

While you may be inclined to focus attention on your liquid assets as the market decline has been significant, you should also appreciate the financial impact on your primary business assets. Many family enterprises are furloughing employees, reducing salaries and taking other significant cost cutting measures. Shareholders will need to tighten their belts as well by reducing or suspending dividends.

We urge you NOT to postpone or cancel family meetings. Connection with the family in times of distress is important as is processing the impact of the crisis so that you can make important decisions. Consider opportunities to engage family in online forums for purposes of education, decision making and personal connection.



For most leaders, the COVID crisis is the most significant test of leadership they will ever face. For those of you in leadership positions, our thoughts are with you. Kellogg faculty member and former Fortune 500 CEO Harry Kraemer offers these suggestions on leading in the crisis in this Kellogg Insight article: Two Principles for Leading Your Organization Through the COVID-19 Crisis.

Communication is key in trying times. Family enterprise leaders need to be in regular contact with employees, shareholders and other stakeholders on a real-time basis. For more insights into communication during a crisis, HBR article: Communicating Through the Coronavirus Crisis.

Lastly, take care of yourself. Stay attuned to your mental health and the health of your family members! Building a virtual community of supports, managing your pace of work and taking time to invest in your physical and mental health will be key to absorbing the impact of the situation.