Many donors choose to establish a family foundation with the specific goal of engaging their children and future generations in shared family philanthropy. This involvement does not always happen in the ways donors expect. Think about the young adults that have a relationship to your family’s philanthropy. Are these family members actively engaged in the work of the foundation or fund? Do they enjoy their involvement in the family philanthropy? Is it accessible to them?
Families with the most success in engaging new philanthropists are those that prepare younger family members for philanthropy in general—not for a specific role within it. Not all family members will want or be able to serve as a board member, but they can always be charitable. Equip your next generation, then, with the values and the skills for effective family philanthropy, however they may serve.
This section provides additional reading and guidance on engaging the next generation in your family foundation. For a wide variety of additional resources on this topic, current NCFP Friends are invited to login to NCFP's Family Philanthropy Online Knowledge Center.
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.
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.