How to Make Giving a Family Affair

By Diane Park, August 29, 2018

For many of us, charitable giving is a natural part of our monthly or yearly activities, including budgeting. We’ve had a lot of conversations recently with clients asking how to involve their children and/or grandchildren in charitable gifting. Our advice is for them to first clarify their own charitable goals before engaging the younger generation in the conversation. For example, take time to assess: 

  • The what (amount and what to gift)
  • Your why (how do you want to impact society)
  • The who (which charities to support)

And while these questions sound straightforward on the surface, when a person sits down to actually answer them, things can get a little complicated. So, let’s walk through how you can get smart about what you’re giving, why, and to whom. 

Budgeting for Giving : The What

Everyone budgets for giving in a unique way that works for their lifestyle and overall budget. For some, it’s a portion of their monthly income. For others, philanthropy is in the shape of a dedicated fund. And still others have plans for large gifts in their estate. Deciding your what—how much and what to gift—is integral in your larger financial planning conversations. Make the decisions with your family members, spouse and financial professional, who may bring new ideas you’ve never considered. 

Introduce budgeting to children when they start earning an allowance or working. Show them how to divide what they make into long-term savings, short-term savings, cash to use, and a giving fund. 

Resources

There are many online resources that can help you sort out how much to budget for charitable giving. And don’t forget: for many organizations the gift of time is just as valuable as monetary contributions. Most charities have ongoing needs and some will let families volunteer together, which is a powerful way to include younger generations.  

Aligning Missions : The Why

For most (I’d venture to say all), philanthropy is more than just a tax advantage, or a vague notion of “the right thing to do.” It’s actually very personal. We all have stories that are at the root of why we give to those we do. And it’s passing the stories from one generation to the next that is the prime step in conveying family and philanthropic legacies. 

For instance, when asking a person why they give, they may tell a story of themselves as a child, either of being on the receiving end of a charitable gift, or being included in their family’s charitable activities. So, their giving is a way to express gratitude or to continue a legacy started by their parents or grandparents. Or, they’ll tell a story of their current understanding of the state of their community. 

Perhaps they feel there are certain organizations that need additional support at this specific point in history. For others, they give because they belong to a spiritual or faith tradition that suggests it, and the organizations they support are in line with those same philosophies. 

Sit down with the children in your life and talk to them about whattheythink is important and what meaningful change they’d like to see in the world. You may be surprised at the depth and specificity of their input. 

Resources

Here are three questions we suggest you ask yourself and discuss with your kids when thinking about the why: 

  1. What really matters to you and why?
  2. What are you most grateful for in your life?
  3. What are a few experiences that have had a large impact in your life?

The Perfect Organization : The Who 

We understand that once you’ve budgeted for giving, and taken the time to get clear on what mission you want to support, it’s critical that you put that passion and investment into an organization you trust. When you’re researching and even interviewing potential philanthropic recipients, look for transparency, specificity and organization. Not every high-quality organization has been around for decades, but they will all have clear mission and visions, clear steps they’re taking to meet those goals, non-profit documentation in place, board of directors who are reputable, and transparent financial records. Don’t be shy about asking for anything you don’t find on a website, and don’t go it alone! Bring your children and grandchildren along when you volunteer. Almost every organization is open to volunteers of all ages. 

Resources

If you are looking for new organizations to support that better align with your personal goals and aspirations, we encourage you to re-visit some of the answers and stories you wrote down when answering the questions above. It’s all about identifying a few things you hope will come to fruition for the future, and finding organizations that are working towards that goal. This website is a good resource for organizations that help you research charities. 

Give us a call. 

We’d love to help you meet your unique giving goals, and find a good way to make charitable giving a multi-generational tradition! We have experience guiding clients through the creation of family mission statements, which are multi-purpose tools, but are especially useful for guiding family gifting. Call us for all your financial planning and multigenerational wealth management needs. We work first-hand to lend support to charitable organizations that seek to improve the quality of life in our community through our Community Investment Program. For example in May we celebrated our community partner the Jeremiah Program with our Summer Kick Off at the Castle event, where we raised nearly $10,000!  In addition, we provide funding to 501(c)(3) public charities, opportunities for employees to take time off to volunteer, and company–wide community service events. We invite you to lean more about our community involvement here.

 

The information contained in this article has been gathered from sources we believe to be reliable, but we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information. The information herein is for illustrative purposes only. This is a general education article, and should not be construed as tax or legal advice, and may not be the applicable to your specific situation. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, or financial professional for advice specific to your individual needs.

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