How Family Giving Adds Joy to the Holidays

by | Nov 5, 2019

Will the next generation give as much as their grandparents and parents? And which generation is “the next generation”? Well, of course, the answer is relative. 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. Holidays are the perfect time to learn how your children and grandchildren answer the question.

In the book, The Seven Faces of Philanthropy,  Russ Prince and Karen File identify seven types of donors.

  • Repayer: Doing Good in Return
  • Investor: Doing Good is Good Business
  • Socialite: Doing Good is Fun
  • Communitarian: Doing Good Makes Sense
  • Devout: Doing Good is a Moral Obligation
  • Altruist: Doing Good Feels Right
  • Dynast: Doing Good Is a Family Tradition

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 the question about giving by the different generations 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 each 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 from each other.

As the holidays approach, look for opportunities to talk about the family giving together.  Don’t miss the joy by letting those moments pass. There is not a right or wrong way to have the conversation.

Consider having the “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 that organization. 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. They are likely surprised you asked them first.  

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.

Do you want to learn more about how to give together? Let’s talk about it.

Like it? Use it. Share it. Comment below.

1 Comment

  1. Gail

    Now that I’m living with grandchildren, I’m planning to use them to help me with my year end giving decisions. Thanks for the direction.


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