Philanthropy’s Role in Developing Responsible Adults

Families of wealth face unique challenges. In most cases, children cannot avoid being set apart because of the communities in which they live, the kinds of cars they drive, the vacations they take, and the affluent friends whose company they keep. They can afford to attend elite private schools and receive the support of coaches and tutors. The extent of their wealth requires professional advisors. As a result, some children of wealth behave as if privileges are unrestricted, have less incentive to lead productive lives, and often feel estranged from their peer groups.

Many advisors to families of wealth focus on overcoming counterproductive behaviors of their clients’ progeny. The authors of this edition of Passages believe a more constructive approach to raising responsible adults emphasizes positive practices, such as philanthropy. The interviews presented here identify four areas of philanthropic engagement which can contribute to inhibiting entitlement behaviors in children of wealth.