Family Giving Through Generations

How can I get my children to become givers? How can I get my grandchildren to engage together? How can I keep my family from splitting apart through multiple generations?

Family philanthropy provides a neat vehicle for answering these questions, but you have to go at it the right way. There are some issues on which everyone can agree, and there are some that are unique to each individual. A successful philanthropic plan encourages both togetherness and individuality.

A family fund at a community foundation, or a family foundation, can be very effective to get the generations working together toward a common goal. Stating the philanthropic vision clearly is important, and you have to get everyone to buy into it.

At the same time, it is useful for each child and grandchild to have a donor advised fund for his or her family. Separate funds provide a way for them to give individually outside the framework of the larger family’s shared interests, and they can begin to establish their own traditions for their children and grandchildren.

Community foundations are great venues to manage these giving vehicles not only because they have the technical expertise, but because their staffs have worked with many, many families in these situations. Most important, they have great ideas to bring to the table in a wide variety of charitable areas.

Labor Day marks for many of us the beginning of a new year. School is back in session tomorrow. The pace at work will pick up. Social engagements will abound. Charitable giving comes into center focus due to the upcoming end of the tax year. By planning ahead and having your giving vehicles ready, you can make the best use of your year-end giving not only for charities but for your family.

Robert Thalhimer

Posted at 1:00 AM, Sep 04, 2008 in Intergenerational | Permalink | Comments (1)


Thanks Robert for your post on family philanthropy and the importance of supporting the younger generations to get involved.

If folks are interested in more resources about involving the next gen in family philanthropy or about inspiring strategies for social change philanthropy, I would invite you to check out Resource Generation ( and our book Creating Change Through Family Philanthropy.

Resource Generation is a national organization that works with young people with financial wealth who are supporting and challenging each other to effect progressive social change through the creative, responsible and strategic use of financial and other resources. Be in touch to find out more!

Posted by: Michael Gast