Creating a Family Plan for Giving

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As families start contemplating a future transfer of wealth and the role giving will play in perpetuating their legacy, establishing a charitable giving plan should be discussed. However, it’s a discussion that should extend beyond meetings with advisors and become part of a larger, ongoing discussion that includes all family members.

Here are some tips you may find useful as you pursue such a conversation.

1. Encourage open communication. Provide an opportunity for each member, regardless of age or circumstances, to communicate their preferences for giving, including which causes, specific organizations, the amount of time or money they think would be appropriate.

2. Look for common ground. When you find something everyone agrees on, it gives you a foundation to start building your family’s mission statement. This will help with future giving. Having a mission statement may seem formal, but being able to articulate areas your family wants to concentrate its efforts on–whether it’s a shared interest in the arts, medical research that impacts someone you all care about or a social cause-establishes a shared sense of purpose. This can help define you as a family unit, enabling you to function as a team.

3. Decide on the recipients. Once you have an overarching strategy, revisit each person’s list to make the group decision about which organizations or activities you want to support. While pooling resources toward one cause is an option that brings unity, dividing the amount being given—or part of it—ensures each family member was heard and feels their judgement is valued. Many families earmark a fixed amount of money for each child to donate to the charitable cause of their choosing once they reach school age. We know young adults, now living independently, who enjoy and take pride in their family’s tradition.

4. Determine the best way to donate. When appropriate to estate plans, some families find giving through a family foundation to be to more effective in maximizing the impact of their dollars, especially on an after-tax basis. Others may find utilizing a community organization, or donor-advised funds beneficial. The more formalized the vehicle chosen for ongoing family giving, the greater the opportunity for family members, especially children as they enter adulthood, to serve as board members or trustees—positions that can later help enhance their professional career and leadership skills.

5. Pursue opportunities to follow up. As good as giving may feel, seeing the results of a donation closes the circle. It gives you and your family proof that what you did made the difference you sought to make. Seeing that difference—whether in person or through a report shared by an organization—helps build enthusiasm for the next act of family giving.

As much as giving as a family can help reinforce shared values, strengthen family bonds and enhance your children’s sense of self-worth and awareness of their place in the world at large, it has another benefit. It can also help you build a legacy that will be handed down to future generations.


This material is provided by Gryphon Financial Partners, LLC (“Gryphon”) for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to serve as a substitute for personalized investment advice or as a recommendation or solicitation of any particular security, strategy or investment product.  Facts presented have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable.  Gryphon, however, cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information.  Gryphon does not provide tax, accounting or legal advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as tax, accounting or legal advice.  Individuals should seek such advice based on their own particular circumstances from a qualified tax, accounting or legal advisor.

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