At this time of the year, families pause their busy lives and gather together to reflect on their many blessings. It’s also a time when thoughts of charitable giving are front of mind, and many make year-end donations. The holiday season offers an opportunity to not only reflect on how you’ve given in the past but to create a plan to drive your gifts going forward. As you gather with family or sit around the Thanksgiving table this year, take the opportunity to engage your heirs and discuss values and philanthropic interests. So when Giving Tuesday arrives on December 3, everyone can be involved in giving back.
Getting started with family engagement
Families often ask us how they can pass on values and the importance of giving back. Your children or grandchildren may already be involved with your philanthropy. If not, you may be wondering when and how to prepare them to participate. Some families include children in volunteer activities, starting at an early age. Others use private foundations, donor-advised funds, or annual charitable giving as ways to get heirs involved in philanthropy and to manage wealth now.
Wondering where to start? The grid below provides goals and ways to engage heirs of any age. It takes into account individual values and causes of interest. Whether your nine-year-old is beginning to volunteer or your thirty-year-old is taking on more financial responsibility for the family foundation, heirs of all ages can be an integral part of the family philanthropy. By tailoring participation to each heir’s values and causes, they’ll be inspired to engage and participate fully, to witness how their small or big acts can make a difference.
An ongoing effort
For families with established charitable goals and vehicles, communicating expectations, rules, and the mission of the plan is vitally important to ensure philanthropy lives on throughout the year. A best practice is to establish formal family philanthropy meetings, that are either wholly separate from, or at least a dedicated portion of other family meetings. These should be held at least annually at a time and location that is attainable for all members. Thanksgiving, for example, is a prime time when all are gathered together and in the spirit of giving back.
These family meetings, like any other business meeting, should have an agenda which communicates the goals of the conference—laying out the topics to be covered, and any prework that’s required. Agendas should be drafted and distributed ahead of time, if possible. Consider asking for input or suggestions from family members before the meeting to maximize buy-in. It’s also a good time for family members to pitch grants or other charitable ideas. If this meeting happens near Thanksgiving, then Giving Day gifts can also be chosen.
All giving matters
Giving Tuesday recognizes the importance of altruism, compassion, and goodwill, bringing to the forefront that all acts of charity—whether it’s a gift of your assets, time, or voice—matter. While this is one symbolic day, family philanthropy should include ways to give back throughout the year, to causes and charities that are tied closely with all family members’ values.
To learn more, read our blogs, “Are Your Heirs Prepared?” and “Are Your Heirs Engaged?” And if you are interested in establishing a customized philanthropic plan, download our guide “Philanthropy: Rooted in Your Values.”
The views expressed herein do not constitute and should not be considered to be legal or tax advice. The tax rules are complicated, and their impact on a particular individual may differ depending on the individual’s specific circumstances. Please consult with your legal or tax advisor regarding your specific situation.