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Feature – Giving, a Family Affair

Lots of conversations happen around the dinner table. Most modern families have little time to sit down for a meal, so when they do, there is always plenty to talk about: the day’s workload, what the kids did in school, entertainment gossip, world news--the possibilities are endless. But how often do you discuss philanthropy with your family? Have you shared why you giving back to your community; why you donate and volunteer with particular causes? If your answer is seldom or never, now is the perfect time to start the conversation. Especially since the holiday season is here and there will several family dinners to share.    

According to a Women’s Philanthropy Institute study at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, children whose parents talk to them about charitable giving are 20 percent more likely to give to charity than children whose parents did not discuss giving.  So, it is not only practical to speak with your family about giving; some would say it is critical. 

It can sometimes feel like an overwhelming topic to tackle. There are so many different aspects it can be challenging to know where to start. If you Ask, Listen, and Plan, you and your family will be well on your way to establishing your family’s philanthropy.

The first thing to do is to gather your family together for the conversation. It doesn’t have to be in person; you can schedule a virtual call so everyone can join in on the conversation, regardless of where in the world they live.  Ask your family to think about the things that are important to them, then discuss why those values/ideas/causes are so near and dear to them. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about each other too.

Actively listen to those you have brought around the table. Is there a common theme? Learn what you have in common and let those direct the philanthropy. You may choose to focus on a specific cause such as your family’s church, a geographic location like the city you live in, or on a general value such as education or equity.

Once you and your loved ones have narrowed your focus and know where you want to give, it's time to make a plan. Set a budget and a timeline for giving. Will you make a one-time gift, include volunteering, or utilize your Donor Advised Fund to give throughout the year? If you need some suggestions on how to turn your plan into action, THCF is always here to help you help your community.   

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