Sharing your family’s history is a critical first step to engaging a new generation in your family's philanthropy, providing a window into the rich heritage of your forebearers. It helps young people feel more connected with the generations preceding them and gain a greater appreciation of their place within this evolving story.
In this unit, you will find several examples of ways that family foundations have engaged their next gen in learning about the family and created lasting pieces to share with generations to come.
The Story Corps website features a simple to use 'app' and sample questions for you to ask your grandparents or relatives. Create a recording as a gift for your family, and to add to the Story Corps archives.
Tell your hiSTORY exercise
Completing the activity: Through this exercise, family members will share their unique perspectives about their involvement with the giving program.
1) Using the flipcharts and markers, ask participants to convey images and words that describe the role of the foundation in their life. They can use a series of bullet headlines, words, or pictures that highlight major milestones, decisions, or events as it pertains to the philanthropy. Often times, those family members who have had more time and involvement in the giving will have more to include on their flipchart. That is OK. The point of this activity is to better understand where each person is in their lives and in relation to the family foundation.
2) Give each family member 5-10 minutes for this activity. At the end of the allotted time, each person should take 2-3 minutes to share their hiSTORY. The facilitator should go first, role modeling both an awareness of the amount of time each person has to speak as well as an appropriate level of depth and authenticity. Family member should not respond to each story, but rather practice active listening.
3) Conclude the activity by asking family members to identify anything new that they learned about each other.
Completing the Activity: This exercise enables family members to recall the stories, events, and messages handed down from previous generations by asking themselves questions such as: who are the characters in my family history? What world events comprised the backdrop of their lives? What choices did they make in light of those events? The act of writing down family history intensifies the participants' sense of what they are "inheriting" in terms of values and legacies beyond financial inheritance and how that informs their own lives.
Create a family history document or video
It doesn’t have to be an Oscar winner, it just has to capture the spirit of your family. Your project can be as simple as a family photo montage on poster board or as complex as a professionally produced video that will last for generations.
This article offers guidance on things to consider before launching a project of this nature. Some examples: