It is better to give than to receive, and the joy of giving is even better when enjoyed with your family. How can you practice philanthropy as a family? Getting everyone on board may be easier said than done. But the reward, a family united in doing good, is definitely worth the effort.
Giving with Small Children
Passing on your values starts when children are very young. We do it in thousands of small ways, from encouraging a toddler to share to asking a preteen to consider a friend’s feelings. We also sometimes pass on values we didn’t mean to, by our example. If we constantly talk about helping the less fortunate, but never do so where the children can see it, they’ll start to think charity is something to talk about, not put into practice.
But including children in family philanthropy can be easy. Even before they have money of their own, they can learn to give their time and talent to worthy causes. Good volunteer possibilities include picking up trash, visiting the elderly, or making care packages for the homeless. During the holidays, your family can adopt a less fortunate family, and your children can help purchase the gifts.
As children get older and have their own allowances, you can encourage them to set aside a percentage and choose causes to support. Letting the child choose whether to support a school in another country or an environmental project allows them to feel invested in the work they sponsor. Offer to match their gift, so they can feel they’re making a big impact. Charities that include updates on how they used the gift can make it easier for a child to feel they made a difference.
Talking as a Family About Giving
Ideally, a whole family, from grandparents down to children, can participate in philanthropy together. At a family meeting, you can discuss the legacy your family wants to pass down. Do you believe in sponsoring the arts, assisting the poor in your community, or helping the environment? What are the family members’ favorite causes?
Together, you can draft a family mission statement that expresses what you all hope to achieve in your charitable giving. This can be as complex or simple as you want. The important thing is that everyone has a chance to contribute to the finished statement.
By spelling out your legacy this way, you increase your family’s bond and sense of purpose. And it means no one will be blindsided by discovering family members’ giving plans. For instance, if you intend to leave a portion of your estate to charity, it’s important everyone in the family is aware ahead of time.
Vehicles for Family Philanthropy
Once the family is on the same page about the charitable goals you share, you can start working on vehicles to make giving as a family easy. One simple vehicle is a donor-advised fund. Family members can donate money to a special account, where the money is invested and then passed on to the charities you choose.
To donate in a larger way, some families establish a family foundation. This is an entity (either a trust or a corporation) dedicated to your family’s philanthropic work. It will need funds, a mission statement, and a board of directors.
Foundations are governed by strict tax rules, so you’ll need a professional to help you set it up. You’ll also have to be careful to use the foundation strictly for your family’s nonprofit work. But, carefully managed, a family foundation can continue to do good for generations to come.
How a Financial Advisor Can Help
Once your family is on board about pursuing philanthropy together, you’ll want to bring in a professional to help you find the best ways to do good. Financial advisors don’t just work to help you get richer. They can help you accomplish any goal you have for your money, including charity. We can connect you with financial advisors experienced in family philanthropy. Contact us to be matched today.