Forge a legacy of generosity and goodwill
Philanthropy can have a positive impact in many ways. Of course, the most important benefit is the good that results for charitable giving recipients. But for wealthy families, philanthropy has much more to offer.
Get to the heart of the matter
Through the act of giving, you have the opportunity to reflect your family's values. As the family leader, you can share what you're passionate about so your family members can carry forward your legacy to future generations.
Making a difference in others' lives can cultivate an emotional bond within your family, building trust and encouraging openness.
Experience the benefits of a shared purpose
By involving your family in philanthropy, you can:
Extend the reach of your charitable giving
Fostering an appreciation for philanthropic values in succeeding generations widens the scope of what you can accomplish.
Helping your heirs experience firsthand the joy of giving and supporting worthy causes can start a chain reaction, inspiring them to make philanthropy an ongoing part of their lives.
Create family unity
A shared sense of purpose is a powerful thing. Your family may decide to stand for a particular cause—hunger, poverty, or education, for example.
Rallying around and supporting a cause together promotes communication and makes giving an even more fulfilling experience.
Shift the focus away from personal interests
Estate planning conversations can sometimes bring deep and uncomfortable emotions like worry or jealousy to the surface. Philanthropy gives everyone a focus unrelated to the "who gets what" conversations, and it's a powerful reminder of the bigger picture.
Participating in decisions about charitable giving can teach family members about accountability, persuasion, due diligence, and financial management—valuable life skills for both personal and business matters.
Let everyone play a role in making a difference
If you don't already have a foundation or other structure in place, follow these steps to involve your family in philanthropy.
Have a family meeting
Introduce charitable giving to your family as a venture you can pursue together. Let them know how they can participate, such as suggesting causes to support or researching organizations and sharing their findings with the group.
Make it clear at the outset how the final decisions about giving will be made. For example, you could solicit ideas from the group but make the final decision yourself, or with your spouse. Or take a family vote and let the majority rule.
Discuss and decide
Encourage everyone to take part in the discussion about potential causes and organizations to support. Give family members the chance to suggest recipients and "make their cases" for the causes they're passionate about.
This can be an opportunity for younger generations to practice their research, organizational, and presentation skills.
When you've wrapped up the discussions, follow the process you decided on earlier to make the final choices about where to give.
You can make your donation right away, but you could also consider using the money to teach investing skills first. By giving a child or young adult money to invest until it's donated, you'll give them an opportunity to learn about picking investments, understanding investment costs, and monitoring performance.
If you invest the money through a donor-advised fund, you'll get an immediate tax deduction while you wait to recommend specific grants.
Any separately accounted-for fund maintained by a sponsoring charity where (a) the donor or a designee of the donor is given the opportunity to advise the charity regarding investments, grant recipients, and the amount and timing of grants; and (b) the sponsoring charity retains exclusive legal control over all decisions regarding investments, grant recipients, and the amount and timing of grants.
The Vanguard Charitable Resource Center offers ideas and information about how to build your giving goals and make an impact. We cover topics such as best practices for donors, giving tools, granting, complex assets, taxes, and more.