Give Together, Learn Together

by | Nov 21, 2014

Will the next generation give as much as their grandparents and parents? Which generation is “the next generation”? The answer is relative, isn’t it? Every generation wonders about the one that follows.  Baby Boomers have been wondering about Generation X and they are now both wondering about the Millennials.

Russ Prince and Karen File published The Seven Faces of Philanthropy in 2001.  Three of the Faces – Communitarian, Investor and Altruist – seem most relevant to my questions.

The Communitarian believes “doing good” in the community makes good sense.  The Investor believes it is good business and the Altruist says it feels right. Do you hear grandparent, parent and child in that brief description?

I also hear Baby Boomer, Generation X and Millennial. In my experience the answer to my question is mostly about style of giving.  That makes the discussion interesting when the three generations get together.

I’ve sat at conference tables and in living rooms and heard the conversations. What I love most about these moments is watching how the generations learn from the other.

Whether it is a family foundation, a family giving from a checkbook, donor advised fund, or a family discussing how wealth will pass from one generation to the next, each generation is often surprised at what they learn.

As the holidays approach you may find opportunities to talk about the family giving together.  Don’t let those moments pass. There is no right or wrong way to have the conversation. Consider having a “what if” conversation.  What if we had $10,000 or even more to give away as a family? Where would you suggest we make that gift?    Tell me why you like them. Where did you hear or read about them? Would you give them more or less?

Notice I am not suggesting you tell them what you think.  Ask, ask and ask again. Keep peeling the onion to learn more about what interests them and why. If they ask where you would give, THEN share your favorite organization and why.  Don’t worry if they don’t ask for your opinion, there will be time for that conversation on another day.

The size of the gift is not important.  It’s all about the conversation. Use an amount that’s appropriate for your family.

If you want to wrap it up and put a bow on top, make a gift to one or more of the organizations the family discussed. Be sure the family knows the gift was made. The bow is celebrating generosity as a family.

I welcome conversations about families, the next generation and giving together. Contact me to explore these conversations for your family.


  1. Michael Lujan

    What a wonderful way to really get to the heart of the matter in celebrating our holiday season. Thank you for framing this activity in such an easy way. I’m looking forward to some very enlightening conversations!

  2. Toni Hibbs

    What a generous giving example you are, Dawn! You give to others in so many ways. Have a blessed Thanksgiving. Hugs,

  3. Lisa Godfrey

    I love the onion analogy. We should keep peeling back the layers to get to the layer of the greatest need.

  4. Alan Roseman

    I love the Christmas season for many reasons, but one is certainly because it tends to help people refocus their hearts on living generously throughout the year. Great post, Dawn – thank you for all you do to inspire generosity!


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