A Legacy of Generosity
One of the concerns that we hear from clients often is that they want to make sure their children will be responsible with the money they inherit. In the book Complete Family Wealth – Wealth as Well-Being, the authors address this issue by encouraging parents to help your children individuate, understand the importance of work, and find their own purpose so that the money they inherit becomes integrated into their established values and not something that detracts from it. Often, an important part of this character formation involves the practice of generosity.
There are many benefits to generosity. Individuals who volunteer throughout their lifetime typically live longer and have better psychological well-being. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. This is of course in addition to what we hope to be altruistic motivations in their efforts to give back to the marginalized in their communities. [i]
We hope that our kids are generous and that they will carry on a legacy of being charitably minded, but where we do well in setting the example for them, we may fail to invite them into the process. “According to a study in the Journal of Adolescence, adolescents were 18% more likely to donate money to a charitable organization if their parents had made any donation of their own in the past year. On the other hand, if a parent donated and talked about it, the child was 33% more likely to donate – an increase of 15 percentage points.” [ii]
In the past, donors have made their largest contributions to charity in their wills, private foundations, or charitable trusts upon their passing. However, in recent years, there’s been a shift to “giving while living.” Donors want to be personally involved and witness the change they seek. Many are motivated by the urgency of today’s challenges and hope to see for themselves the impact they are making. [iii]
Here are some ways that we can invite our families into our Legacy of “Giving While Living”:
1. Start the Conversation
You can start by having meaningful conversations about the importance of philanthropy with your children and grandchildren. Specifically share why generosity is important to you, what specific causes are near to your heart, and how you have been involved over your lifetime. Then invite your children and grandchildren to share their perspectives on those 3 areas. 2. Volunteer Together
This is great way to spend time together, to create memories, and start to establish the building blocks of a family that gives. Find a cause that everyone is passionate about or allow each person to choose a cause they care about and invite the family to volunteer for those causes over the year.
3. Open a DAF for the Family Open a family Donor-Advised-Fund and establish an annual giving goal. Divide that amount by each family member and allow them to write grants to charities of their choice over the year. At the end of the year, present where you gave, why that organization is important to you, how you were involved during the year, and the impact that the organization had on the community. This approach will help you to avoid burdening future generations with interpreting your own philanthropic plans. Instead, if children and grandchildren have different interests, you want your heirs to shape their own philanthropic plans. This truly is the heart of a Legacy of Generosity, helping the next generation be passionate about giving back as much as you are. Here’s more information on opening your own family DAF. [iv]
If you’re looking to give back in our own backyard, Matthew Davis and I had the opportunity to tour James Storehouse [iv] down the street in Newbury Park. James Storehouse supports children in foster care, youth aging out of foster care, children who have been commercially sexually exploited, children “at-risk” of removal, and all their caregiving families. A few of their initiates are providing a boutique where foster children can “shop” for a week’s worth of clothing when they are first displaced, a free food pantry, providing furniture to foster families and parents who are getting back on their feet to welcome their kids home again, hosting parenting classes, mentoring aged out foster youth, offering free-of-charge counseling services, and so much more. You can find out more ways to volunteer and support through their website: https://www.jamesstorehouse.org/.
If we can be of any support as you’re starting to intentionally build a legacy of generosity in your own family, please don’t hesitate to reach out.