Giving spirit: How do I get my family interested in philanthropy?

A family smiles together

Modeling behaviors and empowering your children can have lasting impacts.

Beth Renner, head of Advice Center, Advice & Planning, Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment Management
Beth Renner, head of Advice Center, Advice &
Planning, Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment
Management

Defining your path forward is a new series featuring personal, actionable perspective from Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment Management. Our previous features talked about proactive plans for communicating about wealth. This installment discusses how to extend your family legacy across generations through a giving spirit.

Offering time, talents, and financial resources to causes your family cares about can help contribute not only to the greater good but also to greater personal satisfaction and a sense of purpose in life. For those who have achieved a degree of financial success, the concept of giving back may come rather naturally. Getting the next generation interested in shared philanthropy, however, may take time, commitment, and careful planning as well as engaging the assistance of your advisors.

Here are some key recommendations to help engage your family in the spirit of giving:

Bring philanthropy home

At its core, philanthropy is a worldview, but keep in mind that it is a personal view as well. A giving spirit and philosophy are modeled, observed, and adopted principally within the home. The younger generation can see the love of humankind in their parents’ and grandparents’ actions as well as in the unselfish dedication of resources to help improve the lives of others.

Consider how to model your love for the communities and causes you care about to your family. You can plan together what activities you want to participate in together – like stocking shelves at a local food drive or organizing a beach cleanup. As you engage, share reasons for actively giving back and what it means within your family.

Share your story

A family culture of silence around money can leave our loved ones without opportunities for discussion about finances and giving. Be willing to share your stories about wealth creation and who helped you along the way with their time and financial support. Discussing how you got to where you are provides important opportunities for your children to learn more about you, your history, and your values.

Align around a shared purpose

Involving your family in philanthropy can help spark energizing conversations about values, passions, and money beliefs. It also can provide treasured opportunities for self-discovery, accountability, deeper family bonds, and enhanced financial literacy. A shared purpose fosters stronger communication and a sense of shared stewardship, and in turn endows heirs with the gifts of meaning, influence and gratitude.

A giving spirit is modeled, observed, and adopted principally within the home.

Embrace generational differences

Philanthropy can be as unique as a fingerprint. Don’t assume your way is the only way. Our children’s and grandchildren’s generations need their own philanthropic identity within the family structure. Allow them opportunities to act upon their own motivations and look for ways to support their unique giving style within the framework of family philanthropy.

Empower everyone in the process

The individual beliefs, desires, and motivations of your family members need to be heard and incorporated into the design of your charitable giving. Schedule regular family meetings to provide education, discuss current and future plans, and invite both questions and dialogue around your charitable giving. Invite family members to the table and allow them to explain and share their interests. Look for ways to incorporate those interests into your shared mission. Respect the diversity of perspectives that family members bring while also surfacing and reinforcing values that you may all share.

Bring your advisors to the table

The process of engaging your family in philanthropy can be as rewarding as the act of charity itself. But sometimes it can be challenging to engage in robust conversations about your charitable goals as a family. Consider engaging your family’s trusted advisors for help in navigating considerations around family dynamics, addressing challenging topics, and staying focused and inspired along the way – helping secure your family’s legacy and giving spirit for generations to come.

Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment Management (WIM) is a division within Wells Fargo & Company. WIM provides financial products and services through various bank and brokerage affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company.