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Family Philanthropy: How to Create a Lasting Legacy

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In our wealth management practice, we sometimes hear concerns about the commitment of the next generation to important charitable and philanthropic goals. These comments usually come from individuals who have done well and for whom giving back to others is a core value. Sometimes these clients worry about “the kids’” ability or commitment for carrying on what the clients hoped would be a family legacy of doing good for others.

A Significant Generational Issue

By some recent estimates, Baby Boomers will transfer something like $68 trillion to their heirs over the next 25 years. If that next generation isn’t adequately prepared to make good decisions, it’s hard to calculate the cost of all the squandered opportunities. Not only that, but those in the position of transferring that wealth have a deep interest in establishing a secure foundation for a lasting family legacy.

Build a Family Tradition of Giving

According to philanthropic advisor Colleen Mitchell of Venture3Philanthropy, it all starts in early childhood with learning empathy for others. Comforting an ill sibling or friend with the gift of a treasured stuffed animal indicates feelings of generosity toward those in need, she says. That impulse is the beginning of the philanthropic mindset, and it can be learned, even by young children, if parents and other caregivers stay alert to possibilities.

As kids get older, they can participate in clothing and canned goods drives to benefit various charitable causes. By choosing or buying their own items to donate, they are reinforcing the idea that helping those in need is part and parcel of being a good citizen of the community. For parents and teachers, online resources like LearningToGive.org can provide practical tips, exercises, and even structured activities designed to teach valuable lessons like connecting giving to causes kids already care about, how philanthropy enriches our democracy, community resources for philanthropy, and much more

Solidifying the Legacy

As a generation ages, it is typically important to engage in purposeful communication around family philanthropic goals and efforts. Those with higher levels of resources may even want to arrange a meeting with a trusted financial advisor or consultant to discuss estate planning, trusts, donor-advised funds (DAFs), and other matters. Clear communication with adult children about the importance of philanthropy to aging parents provides the foundation for the understanding of the next generation of family leaders and their commitment to a philanthropic legacy.

If you would like more information about making philanthropy part of your family legacy, or if you have questions about any aspect of charitable giving and how it could relate to your estate plan, please get in touch. We would deeply value the opportunity to help you make your philanthropic goals a lasting benefit to others. To learn more, you can read our recent article, “Managing the Emotional Complexity of Estate Planning,” by clicking here.

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