Getting the next generation involved in your family’s philanthropic efforts may be one of the most important investments you can make in their future and your legacy. Your children are likely interested in giving back to society, yet may not be familiar with your approach to philanthropy, how you became passionate about the causes you support, or how they can find their own way. Educating them and helping to involve them in the process is critical. How do you do that?
Start Involving Them Early
Long ago, it was not common for wealthy families to welcome children and teens into the fold when it comes to giving. While they may know their family helped others, they were not likely to be part of the process. That is no longer the case. The sooner you involve your children and grandchildren in the act of giving and learning about causes important to the family, the better.
Instill in them the importance of philanthropic activities, including what you give to and why. Talk to them, even as teens, about what your family’s contributions have been, so they can have a sense of pride growing up.
Teach Them to Follow Their Passions
The good news is that younger generations are mobilizing quickly to support causes they believe in. Social media has helped to support that effort. When young adults see causes that interest them, they are more likely to get involved and make giving a habit.
That is a fantastic way to encourage them to be a giving person even from a young age. They are learning life lessons about how to best use the resources they have. While the family itself likely already supports established causes, encouraging young adults to find charities they believe in allows them to maintain those traits for years to come.
Encourage Them to Engage in More Than Just Giving
It is important to recognize that this new generation is also very engaged with the world around them. They don’t want to simply write a check, they want to be involved and get their hands into the work of the organization. Nonprofit groups that allow individuals with deep connections to get involved are catching young adults’ attention.
This generation does not want to just give. They want transparency about where the money is going and how they can make a difference, whether it is through name recognition, star power on social media, or simply by getting involved in the work of the organization. In short, the recurring donation that many families provide is not enough for the youngest generation of givers in wealthy families.
Harness this. Work with organizations important to you to find a place for your youngest generation. How can they be a part of the team and make a difference? It’s good for the charity and the family as well.
Involve Them in Your Organization
The work you do is incredibly important to your family’s wealth-building and for the generations to come. While philanthropic efforts are a part of that, it’s not all you do. Welcoming in your next generation so they learn not just what to do, but the reasons behind the decisions you make, will encourage them to develop the same work ethic for years to come. Both Gen Z and the Millennial generation are already engaging with the world around them. Ensure they have a place within your organization where they can learn the values important to your family.
Also, discuss where your family’s wealth came from, especially if multi-generational. The historical perspective can inform their current perspective on the family. . Explain the work you’ve done throughout your lifetime to encourage your family to continue to donate. It’s important for younger generations to know that, while wealth may be present, each generation is a steward of the gifts passed on by the previous one and the wealth needs to be nurtured to allow future giving to keep up with growing needs.
Families that are most successful at giving over multiple generations share their stories with every person in the family. They value what they’ve done and talk about it to ensure that the next generation and the one after that truly understand the value of what they do. Make sure they understand how giving is a part of your family’s legacy and identity.
To achieve this, make time to sit and talk to these individuals. Involve them not just in a simple story or a “lecture” but more of a hands-on experience. Make it a right of passage for them to spend time with you to learn and grow their own passion for what you are doing. This type of hands-on guidance can help them better understand you, personally, as well.
Talk About Listening As Well
Take a deeper look at your own philanthropic efforts. Why do you do what you do? Now, listen to your children and grandchildren to learn their thoughts and wishes as well. Even if they have a different view of the world around them, or they have organizations that may be new to you, value their opinion. Allow them to talk to you about what they think giving means.
They don’t have to step away or change what you are doing, but they may feel more invested and committed to the family’s goals like this when they feel their values and opinions are also considered worthy.
Spend the time necessary teaching, encouraging, and sharing stories to encourage others to do the same. When your family sees what you do and why, they are far more likely to get involved and do the same now and, in the years, to come.