It’s not uncommon for families to ask me, “How should we give together?”
In most of those cases, they are starting with children who are already young adults or who are well-established in their careers.
That road is trickier to navigate than giving with younger children, so here are 5 steps for giving with young adults.
1. Don’t make it too complicated.
Make it fun. One of the simplest ways to start family giving is with random generosity. Give each family member $100 (or some other appropriate amount) and choose a start date and end date. Each person is to give that $100 to someone in need.
Encourage them to look for the person at the grocery store, the attendant at the gas station, the janitor or the barista. Look for those in need and make the gift. After the end date, share the stories with each other.
2. Look for a service opportunity everyone can agree on and participate in.
What kind of project? Perhaps it is stuffing gallon size bags with a water bottle, granola bars, a gift card, etc., to give to homeless people. If you want, make it a shopping trip, go buy the supplies together and fill the bags together.
Other ideas for a service opportunity include serving meals at a rescue mission, bringing goodies to children in the cancer ward, or picking up trash along the roadside.
3. Look for a project you can give to together.
Find something measurable and tangible. Find a couple who needs help paying for an adoption. Perhaps there’s a person you know who needs help getting a new car. Or is there an elderly person needing help with house repairs? Maybe it’s bringing flowers to those in a nursing home?
4. Give everyone a grant certificate for a set amount.
Make the certificate for $1,000 each or whatever makes sense for you. Then ask each family member to consider an organization that they’d want to support.
If they need help finding an organization, you can provide a sample list. Again, make it easy. Then when they’ve got a decision, make the grant and allow them to write the letter disbursing the check.
5. Consider setting up a family donor advised fund.
Announce it with as much fanfare as you desire: “We’ve set up the Smith Family Foundation, and we can now start to do some giving together as a family.” (You can set up a donor advised fund as a much simpler alternative to a family foundation and call it whatever you’d like.)
Hold a family meeting and talk about the things you care about and the things that everyone might consider supporting.
A final word of advice: just get started. Experiment. Try different ways of giving. Share your story with others.
And don’t be discouraged if your efforts aren’t met with success initially. A family giving culture isn’t created overnight.
Photo by Kevin Delvecchio on Unsplash
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Published July 23, 2021