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PARSA University: Involving Your Family in Philanthropy


Source: PARSA Community Foundation

Philanthropy is an important and increasingly popular way for families to come together around shared values, develop a strong sense of social responsibility while also supporting a community and providing tax benefits. Family involvement in philanthropy can take many forms, from volunteering together as a family all the way to leaving a legacy through a family foundation.  Involving your family in philanthropy as early as possible can be done in many ways: 

  • Bring your young children to community events, volunteer activities or museums and cultural activities and discuss with them why you in engage in these activities and support certain causes. Ask them to talk about what they care about. 
  • Encourage elementary age children to be more actively involved in voluntary activities, make small charitable contributions, request contributions to a cause of their choice in lieu of some birthday gifts, and become involved in youth groups and school civic activities.  
  • Middle and high school-age children can be encouraged to donate to causes they believe in, organize their own charitable endeavors or groups, participate in school service-learning activities, and discuss political and community issues.  

Many families can sit together around the dinner table and make their decisions about what causes to support, but families with substantial assets may need to take some extra steps. When making financial decisions, discussing your values with your heirs early allows you to select a philanthropic strategy, instruments and causes that are agreeable to your whole family, Children and grandchildren can be appointed advisors, trustees or board members of family donor advised funds, charitable trusts or private foundations and can play active roles as these legacies are passed down from one generation to the next.

Some things to consider when you plan with your family include: 

  • What does your family value and what will be the strategic focus of your charitable giving? 
  • What is your budget and how can you spend it with the most impact? 
  • Are your budget and your long-term financial goals best matched with individual contributions, donor advised funds, charitable trusts or even family foundations? 
  • If your family's philanthropy will include donor advised funds, charitable trusts or private foundations, how will the legacies be governed and passed-down? 

For more information and resources see - concrete suggestions for encouraging giving for children of all ages.

 A guide to giving for kids written by a 14 year-old girl.

 Resources for families to help them make their philanthropy highly effective and strategic.

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