With so many people needing so much help right now, parents and grandparents have a unique opportunity to teach younger family members the value of giving back. Seeing your values in action could motivate children to include philanthropy in their personal and financial goals as they approach adulthood.
Here are three ways to make giving an activity that will bring your family closer together while making a real impact on the world.
1. Volunteer together
Resources are getting stretched thin at charitable groups right now. But perhaps the most in-demand resource is volunteers. Social distancing recommendations have made it very difficult for some organisations to open their doors. Many would-be volunteers are reluctant to step outside their household bubbles, quite understandably.
However, moving some critical operations online has created new kinds of virtual volunteering opportunities as well. If your family is still spending most its time at home, you could all take a turn at the computer donating and sharing your unique talents. Mum and dad could volunteer as reading tutors or help with basic remote administrative tasks. Your daughter’s photo editing skills could come in handy with a graphic design project. Your son might have an innovative idea for spreading the word about an important campaign on social media.
Whether in-person or online, volunteering together can be a powerful family bonding experience. It can also help reinforce giving back as a family value that children will want to carry on.
2. Design a family donation strategy
For many couples, charitable giving isn’t just a matter of doing good, it’s an important part of their financial plan. Giving your children or grandchildren a voice in how and where you donate could be an important lesson in both budgeting and the true value of money.
You could also use this discussion as an opportunity to share some family history. Explain to your children what your own parents and grandparents taught you about giving. Tell stories that inspired you and your spouse to start giving and explain why you’ve chosen particular causes or organisations. Ask your children or grandchildren what causes are important to them and discuss including those causes in your charitable budget.
Another important topic you might touch on is how you’ve vetted charitable recipients. Children who are old enough for social media are bombarded with crowdfunding campaigns and well-produced pleas for help. If they have their own bank or credit accounts, it’s all too easy for them to click SEND. Remind your children that larger, established organisations have pipelines and oversight that ensure their money reaches people who truly need it.
3. Start your family foundation
Some couples establish charitable trusts or sustained giving through their estate plans. But if you have long-term philanthropic goals, why wait?
Family foundations, trusts, and nonprofit organisations come in all shapes and sizes. An annual golf tournament or 10k run could grow into a meaningful event that draws big community involvement. If you want to establish a larger foundation, you could include smaller discretionary or donor-advised funds that your heirs can use to spearhead their own initiatives under the family banner.
Whether your family decides to give back through volunteering, philanthropy, or some combination, your charitable plans will affect your financial plan as well. Careful budgeting of your time and assets could impact when you decide to retire and the things you want to accomplish once you do.