Charitable Giving

Family philanthropy: Make a plan. Together. (Part 2)

This is the second post in our series on how to create and continue a family tradition of philanthropy. Keep an eye out for more as we continue to show how your children and grandchildren can play a role in your charitable planning and giving.

Studies show children feel good when they do good—so it’s a smart idea to involve your kids and grandkids with your charitable giving plans. If you haven’t already, read the first post in the series, Planting Seeds For Family Giving, to get the conversation started. Then once you’ve laid the groundwork, you’re ready to start mapping out your family’s giving plan.

Talk numbers—before you talk causes.

Don’t go gathering the troops just yet. Before you sit your family down to discuss which charitable causes to support, you’re going to want to establish some ground rules when it comes to finances.

1. Set a family budget for your charitable plan. 

2. Given your budget, decide how many causes or organizations your family may want to support.

3. Decide how you may want to distribute the money. If your family is equally passionate about all the organizations, you might divide the money evenly. If some causes are more popular than others, your gifts can reflect that instead.

Next up, family brainstorm.

Now you’re ready to decide as a family what causes to give to—and if you have a donor-advised fund, you can make grant recommendations to reflect those same causes.

And of course, don’t forget to make it fun. Use a whiteboard or giant poster board and ask for a volunteer to take notes. Or, pass out pieces of paper and have everyone list:

  • Three favorite charitable causes (e.g., education, children’s health, domestic violence, animal welfare)
  • Organizations whose work supports those causes

If you need a place to start, try searching for a charity to get the ball rolling. And remember, at this stage, there are no bad ideas. Your youngest’s desire to help kittens may deserve as much weight as your oldest’s bid to bring fresh drinking water to a community in a developing nation.

Whittle down the causes and organizations to your target number and decide on the amount and timing of your gifts. Find a way for everyone to contribute, regardless of age. For example, if some kids are too young to earn an allowance, be sure your list includes organizations that can accept donations of goods. Or, come up with fundraising ideas appropriate for young kids. If your family likes to volunteer, brainstorming can include suggestions for that as well.

Don’t forget the follow-through.

A follow-up session is a wonderful excuse to get the family together to talk about future giving plans, including what you might want to do differently. It’s also the perfect time to share any thank-you notes from the organizations you supported—and to remind your kids and grandkids that their gifts and time do make a difference.

To continue learning about family giving, be on the lookout for the next post in the series.

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