Ultra-high net worth individuals are becoming increasingly involved in philanthropic activities, perhaps inspired by initiatives such as The Giving Pledge, initiated by Bill and Melinda Gates. While there are certainly many incentives for heads-of-household to lead the charge, the efficacy of this emphasis on giving is increased if philanthropy is introduced at a young age. As mentioned in a recent New York Times piece, a study released in June by Fidelity Charitable found that ”philanthropic giving is increasingly a family affair and that children are getting involved at younger ages.” The benefits of such a mentality are extensive, both to the family and the community. Although it may seem difficult at first, there are resources online to help with the process.
One such resource is this article from GenSpring Family Offices, which details eight keys to involving the next generation in philanthropy: Start early; take advantage of teachable moments; share stories about the family’s history of giving; show your children how to give instead of just telling; “get dirty” in hands-on philanthropic activities with your children; let your children get involved in deciding where to donate (and follow through with a donation); create a formal Philanthropic Mission Statement; and teach financial responsibility. GenSpring recommends that parents and grandparents be aware that the social milieu in which the younger family members are raised can lead to generational differences with regard to preferred charities (for example, Millennials tend to be more interested in sustainability and global causes than are previous generations). Finally, GenSpring mentions that as families grow and adult children get involved with their own careers and families (and become more geographically dispersed), involvement in philanthropic activities may become less of a priority for them. GenSpring stresses that flexibility is key in these situations to reduce the feeling of being pressured into doing something, and will be better in the long run.
Ultimately, GenSpring advises that whatever the challenges, involving children in family philanthropy is a good way of instilling in them the value of giving and getting them excited about making a difference in the world.