Diving into Family Philanthropy (Segment IV): Family Philanthropy – Where to Begin?In our previous posts on family philanthropy, we addressed the benefits of family philanthropy, choosing the right giving vehicle, and investing for impact. In this final post in our four-part series, we discuss how to get started with your family philanthropy. While there is no right or wrong way to “do” family philanthropy, we find it helps to begin with a clear idea of your goals and objectives. We’ve designed the questions below to help you start thinking about what you might like to accomplish for your community and your family through your philanthropy.

1. What do you want to achieve with your family’s philanthropy?

  • Is there a particular cause or issue area that ignites your passion to give?
  • Do you want to be able to deploy your charitable dollars wherever the need is greatest as needs change over time?
  • Are you seeking a mechanism to make annual giving to the charities you already support easier?

2. What value do you place on philanthropy?

  • Does philanthropy play an important role in your life now?
  • How much time would you like to spend engaging in philanthropic pursuits?
  • Do you anticipate that your charitable giving will increase, decrease or stay the same over time?

3. How do you want to involve your family?  

  • How much control do you want other family members to have over where money is donated?
  • Are you interested in using your philanthropy as a way to teach future generations about stewardship and leadership?
  • Which family members do you want to include?

4. How much control do you want to retain?

  • Do you want to have the final say on where funds are distributed?
  • Do you want future generations to have the flexibility to change the way the funds are used?
  • Do you want to ensure that your wishes are carried out in perpetuity?

5. What amount of administrative responsibility do you wish to maintain?

  • Do you like the idea of handling the details associated with regulatory compliance, due diligence and grantmaking?
  • Do you anticipate hiring staff or others to help with administration?
  • Would you be willing to give up some control in order to decrease the number of administrative tasks you are responsible for handling?

6. How will you fund your philanthropy?

  • Are you planning to use an ownership interest in your family-owned business?
  • Are you anticipating a liquidity event?
  • Will you use an asset that you ultimately want to leave to your children?
  • Will the assets used to fund your philanthropy change from year to year?

These are just a few of the common questions we explore with our clients. In our experience, each family’s path to meaningful family philanthropy is different. If you want to brainstorm ways to take your family’s giving to new heights, we are available to discuss these and other topics related to charitable giving at your convenience.