One Way the Laird Norton Family Puts Its Total Balance Sheet to Work

Last week, the Laird Norton Company was recognized by the Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ) as one of the Puget Sound region’s top corporate philanthropists for the third year in a row. For anyone, that would be a wonderful honor. For me – as the leader of Laird Norton Wealth Management (LNWM), one of the three companies, several investments and two foundations branching out from the Laird Norton family enterprise – it has special meaning.

Having advised dynamic families and family enterprises for the past 20-plus years, the Laird Norton family was a significant reason that I came to LNWM. For seven generations, they’ve invested their time, finances, resources and relationships in ways that align with their values and led them to where they are today – one of the country’s longest-standing family enterprises. The recognition by the PSBJ affirms many of the family’s philanthropic efforts past, present and future.

In May of this year, the Laird Norton family enterprise – including LNWM – came together to contribute nearly $1.2 million to nonprofits working on Covid-19 relief in our region and has committed to continue doing so in support of their communities, partners, employees and family members.

It is a sponsor of All In WA, a coalition of public officials, companies, philanthropic leaders, community foundations, United Way organizations and frontline nonprofits coming together to provide immediate critical and emergency support for vulnerable communities across Washington and mobilize committed community and philanthropic groups.

And the Laird Norton Family Foundation is an early committed contributor to the Black Future Co-op Fund, which aims to respond to the disproportionate impacts of Covid-19, strengthen Black culture, increase resilience to economic and other shocks and build generational wealth.

Throughout my career, and now here at LNWM, I talk a lot about what I call the total balance sheet. The Laird Norton family embodies many of its elements. They’ve put their financial, professional, social and political assets together with their values and goals to create new opportunities to make their mark on the world. Philanthropy is just one of them.

The lessons that can be learned from the Laird Norton family – and many other families – are numerous. Today, the Laird Norton name represents diverse interests, enduring values, and a deep commitment to enriching their communities. They intentionally align their operations – of their businesses, foundations, investments and more – with their aspirations. They’ve created a governance structure that gives them tools for decision-making, engagement and to teach stewardship and resiliency to the family’s future generations of leaders. And they’ve built the necessary financial strategies – investments portfolios, philanthropic giving, legacy planning – that empower them to use their wealth to achieve their aims.

I’m proud to be part of a community of people – the Laird Norton family, our clients, and many other individuals and organizations – who are putting their total balance sheets to work. It takes commitment and planning, but the efforts can lead to great outcomes.

Congratulations to all of our region’s corporate philanthropists, and I hope you’ll click here [scroll down to access listings] to learn more about them.