Making Charity a Family Tradition

February 1, 2016

family-givingFamily traditions don't have to be limited to get-togethers on special occasions. They can also be opportunities for your family to do something for those outside of your circle.

Creating a culture of giving that extends to your community can make a difference not only in other people's lives but also in your family's. It allows you to instill the value of charity in your children and grandchildren and leave a legacy of caring that can be passed on to future generations.

If giving as a family isn't part of your traditions yet, there's still time to start. Here are some steps you can take:

Walk the Talk

Show your family members that you're taking part in community work, donating to charity or giving to church. Even simple acts like giving away old clothes and other possessions to the less fortunate can encourage your kids and grandkids to do the same.

Encourage Family Members to Choose Their Own Charity

Organize a special dinner and talk about the charities each member of the family wants to support. Discuss what you like about these charities and how you want to help their cause. This is also an opportunity for you to teach your children how to be good stewards of their finances in the context of giving back.

Support Each Other's Charities

The next step is to show support for your family's charities. This could be in the form of attending events together, like joining fun runs and food drives or volunteering in relief distributions and other charitable activities. You can also match the giving of your children. For example, if they want to give $10 to a pet foundation, let them know that you'll give another $10. Doing charitable activities together in support of each other's causes can further encourage giving within your family.

Set Up a Donor-Advised Fund

Families that are interested in promoting their philanthropic legacy through the generations while involving family members today can set up a donor-advised fund (DAF). Through a DAF, your family, as a committee, can determine the goals and mission of the fund and make decisions about which organizations will receive fund contributions. In addition to getting your family involved, DAFs offer numerous tax benefits, among them a tax deduction each year you contribute, tax-free appreciation of your contributions, and no capital gains or estate taxes.

Giving always comes full circle. It benefits both the giver and the receiver. Instilling a family tradition of giving can have a ripple effect from your circle of influence to communities around you and possibly the world. Let generosity begin in your own home.