On Philanthropy: Set A New Table, Create A ‘Safe Zone’ For Effective Family Philanthropy

By Bruce DeBoskey
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Multigenerational family philanthropy creates a unique opportunity for every family to come together around common values and goals. One philanthropic strategist suggests creating a “safe zone” to makes it much more likely that a family’s philanthropic efforts will succeed.

Tribune News Service

Philanthropic strategists often work closely with families to help them establish, refine or refocus mutigenerational family foundations and donor-advised funds.

Some of these families enjoy long histories of open communication across the generations, about money, values and charity. Many others, however, find these topics extremely difficult to broach.

Multigenerational family philanthropy creates a unique opportunity for every family to set a new table so that all adult and young adult family members are invited to sit, share, develop and act upon common values and goals around money and philanthropy.

Most philanthropic capital is no longer owned by the family. Instead, it has been irrevocably donated to a family foundation or donor-advised fund and no longer appears of the family’s balance sheet.

Alternatively, this capital has been earmarked for charity and will soon be donated. Either way, philanthropically committed capital usually sits apart from the rest of a family’s assets.

This separate pot of money typically represents a relatively small percentage of a family’s overall wealth, money that can be deployed strategically to create opportunities for healing, growth and empowerment.

The first step to setting a new family table and creating a “safe zone” is to jointly establish new ground rules.

Ask each other, “How would you like all family members to show up at the new philanthropy table?” This is often the hardest step for members of the wealth-creating generation, who are accustomed to ruling the roost.

But let us be clear. Rising-generation members will actively participate in a mutigenerational family endeavor like philanthropy only if they have meaningful, equivalent seats at the table.

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