How to Create Your Own Family Philanthropy Board and Have Fun Giving Together

charitable giving, financial planning, Abaris Financial Group, Concord, Massachusetts

By Abbey L. Henderson, CFP®, RLP®, CPCC®

As we approach the end of the year, you may be considering where to allocate charitable giving donations. Have you ever considered getting your family involved in this decision?

Working together on charitable giving is a way to cement your relationships and further your family’s story – your values and your vision. What I call a “family philanthropy board” can be a way to structure this, from the more formal (meetings, minutes, charter), to the informal yearly group conversation you have around the holidays. And just about anywhere in between!

Let’s look at some of the benefits of charitable giving as a family by creating a family philanthropy board and a few questions you should consider before getting started.

Benefits of Creating a Family Philanthropy Board

Since most families come together during the holidays, it’s a great time to broach the idea of starting your own family philanthropy board. Don’t be intimidated from the word “board”, it doesn’t need to be anything extremely formal. In fact, it’s better if it’s fun.

Bond generations of family together

It’s an opportunity to unite two, three, or more generations in a group endeavor. This meaningful interaction, whether it’s conversations about different causes or volunteering together at a local non-profit, will bring the family together.

Share family values

It’s an opportunity for all members of the family to express their personal values. You may be surprised to hear for the very first time about causes your family member is passionate about. It’s also a way for older generations to share their values on the importance of giving and helping others.

Teach children how to manage money

Charitable giving requires thoughtful planning. Doing this as a family gets children involved in researching, saving, and spending – all critical life skills!

Questions to Discuss Together

There should be some parameters in place, so here are a few questions to discuss as a group:

How often do we want to meet?

Do you want to meet just once a year to discuss your plan?  Perhaps at Thanksgiving or Christmas when the family is all together. Or do you want to add an additional meeting during the year, perhaps during family summer vacation?

Do we want to volunteer time, give money, or both?

If money, will everyone contribute? If it’s volunteering will you do so on your own or can you organize a time to volunteer as a group during the holidays or any time of year? Doing it together can be a very rewarding experience!

Will there be a mission? Is there a theme or cause we are passionate about as a family?  Will our cause stay the same or change each year?

For example, maybe your family is full of animal lovers and you decide to focus on various animal rescue programs. Or maybe completely different causes are important to each family member. Will you divvy up the funds each year or rotate between causes annually?

How will our charities be chosen?

One family I worked with allowed each member to nominate a charity and then as a group chose one. In another family, the grandfather allocated $100 for each of his young grandchildren to donate with the condition that they had to present the charity and why they chose it to the group.

How will we memorialize our impact?

If philanthropy is a core value of your family, it’s a great idea to create something you can look back at over time. You could create a photo album of volunteering or meeting as a group, or a scrapbook with charity newsletters, annual reports, and acknowledgment letters from your charities.

Have we talked to our financial advisor about our charitable giving plan?

Once you know the parameters of your family philanthropy board, you should check with your financial advisor to make sure you are implementing your plan in the most tax-efficient way possible.

I would love to hear about your plans for charitable giving as a family. Please contact me if you have any questions or to discuss your charitable giving options.

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