When a family takes the time to work together to identify its philanthropic goals and to collaborate on where and how to give, it can create a meaningful, long-term philanthropic legacy and familial engagement that transcends generational differences.
What family philanthropy is not
In some respects, family philanthropy is defined by what it is not. It is not the senior generation showing younger generations how to engage in philanthropy, what we might call the “Watch Grandpa Give Wisely and Well” model. You can’t assume that your family members will share your passions or want to be involved in the family’s charitable endeavors.
A collaborative process to giving
Family philanthropy can offer a great opportunity for family decision making and for acting together collaboratively to make a difference. It’s important to involve all family members in the discussion, even the younger generations. Encourage children to think about their own causes, creating a culture of giving early on that can extend through multiple generations.
Together, determine what level of philanthropy is right for your family now, and also how that might evolve as your family evolves. You might start by holding an annual family philanthropic meeting to help facilitate discussion on what causes to support over the year. Or you may engage in volunteer activities together, which can be a great way to integrate philanthropy into a family.
For more substantial charitable giving, your family may explore donor advised funds, charitable trusts, or private family foundations, which offer opportunities for long-term gifts that engage the family for generations.
The payoff of family philanthropy
Family philanthropy can be hard work, but also immensely rewarding. When a family takes the time to work together to identify its philanthropic goals and to collaborate on where and how to give, it can create a meaningful philanthropic legacy for multiple generations.