hawkins@growyourgiving.org Individual & Family Giving

Involving the Next Generation in Your Philanthropic Efforts: Passing Along Charitable Values for Generations to Come

Passing along charitable values can seem like a daunting task while balancing everything else.

Senior Philanthropic Advisors Gwen Wurst and Whitney Hosty share ways you can involve others in your philanthropic journey. As parents, sisters and aunts themselves, they know first-hand easy ways to get started. Gwen and Whitney chat through:

  • Small everyday acts that spread generosity
  • Easy ways to involve little ones, teens and young adults
  • How we can help you make a plan for involving your whole family in philanthropy

Inspiration and data in this segment are drawn from Generation Impact: How Next Gen Donors Are Revolutionizing Giving, authored by Sharna Goldseker and Michael Moody.

Our philanthropic advisors can facilitate meaningful conversations on family philanthropy and multigenerational engagement. Contact us today to get the conversation started.

More resources on involving family and the next generation in your philanthropy:


Video Transcription

Gwen Wurst:
Hello, and thank you for joining us today. We are delighted to have this opportunity to inspire you on your philanthropic journey and empower you to give in ways that are meaningful to you. I’m Gwen Wurst, and I’m a philanthropic advisor, and joining me today is Whitney Hosty, also a philanthropic advisor. Right now, today, in this segment, we’ll be chatting about involving family and the next generation in giving. Now, when I say family, that’s whoever you call family. That may be blood relations. It may not be blood relations. Every family’s different. Now, when I say next generation, I mean whoever will follow you. And that again may be family. It may be nieces, nephews, children, grandchildren, whoever you consider the next generation in your life. Whitney, you and I recently read a book that had a lot of information about next generation donors. And in that they shared a statistic that 89% of those next gen donors learned from their parents, and 63% learned from their grandparents. When do you think, how do you think, they learned about giving?

Whitney Hosty:
Really, that opportunity to learn values from parents and grandparents is so important, and that’s such a critical part of giving. I really feel strongly that there is no age that’s too young to begin having these conversations and begin passing along the values that are important to you. There are lots of ways you can involve children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, younger siblings in giving, even at a really early age. We know that even toddlers, before they can talk, will naturally want to help others. You can really encourage them to do that. Helping neighbors or other family members, or perhaps those that they know from church or synagogue, just helping out. Maybe it’s gathering things for a food pantry. You can really just be a good example. We call this walk your talk. So really be an example and model for them how you help others, what you can do to support your broader community. I think a third thing you can do to help, even at a really young age, is to say thank you and teach that important value of gratitude. And especially with really younger children, being grateful for things that maybe aren’t those tangible things. Not necessarily just those toys and favorite snacks, but really more people, and other things that they do for you that you’re grateful for.

Gwen Wurst:
You can infuse that early on; you’re modeling, you’re walking the talk, you’re saying thanks, expressing gratitude, helping folks. What if you want to start involving them in the more transactional piece of you giving a grant to an organization?

Whitney Hosty:
Sure. Absolutely, there are lots of ways to do that too. I think it goes beyond … You can certainly have them maybe log in and make a grant with you online, and talk with them about what you’re supporting, what organizations. It’s not the size of the grant; it’s really explaining what you’re supporting and why, and so the storytelling behind those contributions that you’re making to support organizations. We know stories are critical for having resilience in families through generations. But I think especially related to giving, it’s important to pass those stories along through the generations. And we see that with donors that we work with all of the time. You’re hearing from donors about organizations that they’re supporting. Maybe their parents or grandparents also supported. Or even more than organizations, than just causes too within their interest areas. Some other ways of involving those, in addition to telling them what you’re supporting and why, is really making sure that you’re just talking about involvement in the community. Maybe you’re serving on boards. What board meetings are you going to? You’re volunteering. What are you volunteering for, and why is it important to you? Why do you take time out of the day, maybe missing family dinners because you’re at a meeting? And just giving those opportunities for those conversations, just so that as a family, you’re used to talking about giving year-round, hopefully.

Gwen Wurst:
Can you give me an example of how you’ve seen a family involve younger children?

Whitney Hosty:
I know that we have families who, starting at a young age, maybe around three or four, allow children to direct a grant in celebration of their own birthday each year. It doesn’t need to be a large grant. But each year talking about what’s important to them and what are non-profits in the community and why do they need our support and what do they value? Those are things that over time create a great collection. You look at your grant history and see in celebration of a birthday each year, it’s evolved from feeding the pandas at the zoo, to taking care of babies at the hospital, to being able to provide food to those who are hungry. And it starts sometimes with those more tangible things, but really then grows into other ways to support the community as the children grow older. Again, the dollar amount doesn’t matter, but it’s more of just getting in the routine and the practice of being able to give in celebration of what’s important to you in the community.

Gwen Wurst:
What a great story. Thanks for sharing that.

Whitney Hosty:
Sure. Gwen, I’d love to know, do you have any stories or examples of families that you’ve worked with where they’ve been able to do things to help really ingrain this in the practice of the family’s everyday life?

Gwen Wurst:
Well, it really hearkens back to your comment about storytelling. I met with a family a few years ago and they were having a family meeting and they invited us to come and help facilitate a little bit. We watched as the grandfather, the most senior person in the room, said, “You know what? When I’m gone, I want you to give to where you want to give. This fund will be yours to manage.” And the grandkids and the kids pushed back, and they said, “For years and years, we’ve seen you support your alma mater, and we’ve seen how important your alma mater is to you. You’ve continued to support them through volunteering and through scholarship funding. So we want to honor that. So thank you grandad for giving us the opportunity to give, and we will give them the areas that matter to us, but we want to set up a legacy scholarship fund, and we’re going to continue to give 50% of our granting each year to your alma mater.” So it built out this, they’d heard for years his commitment and really wanted to honor it.

Whitney Hosty:
I love those examples. That generosity clearly is just continuing through generations. How exciting.

Gwen Wurst:
What have you heard in terms of the types of stories somebody would tell? You mentioned I’m volunteering or I’m active in here. But are there any stories looking back that you’ve ever heard that resonated?

Whitney Hosty:
I think there have been some great stories. We’ve heard about maybe a donor that we’re working with currently and who loves to tell about going to see music performances, and loves going to arts organizations, to museums with her grandmother. And really, it was those opportunities to be involved in the community and especially in the arts that gave her that lifelong appreciation, and really wanting to be able to then pass that on to her children and grandchildren of ways to be involved. It’s those stories that are so personal to them about those connections, but then led them to think about ways to support those needs and interests in the broader community too. Gwen, I know that in addition to giving one’s treasure, financial resources, giving time is so important as well. Do you have any examples of where you’ve seen families pass along the fun of volunteering to future generations?

Gwen Wurst:
There’s a woman that we’ve worked with over the years that doesn’t have any children of her own, but has a whole number of nieces and nephews. She made it her practice to develop relationships with them very early on, and she did that through inviting them to volunteer with her. She’s very active with her animals, and they are service animals. And so there were opportunities for the kids to go along to libraries and sit with the dog as children read to the dog. There were opportunities for them to go to the hospital. There were opportunities for them to work with a variety of social service organizations where the dogs were. So through volunteering together, not only did they have a great bond, but all of those kids have a great commitment to community. And I think ultimately that’s what she really wanted. You mentioned logging into the fund and accessing, and you mentioned the specific contributions they can make. Are there other ways that you can involve maybe older kids, maybe they’re in their 20s, maybe they’re in their 30s? How can you engage them?

Whitney Hosty:
Well, in addition to maybe letting them make grants from your own fund, we see that as a way to maybe have an opportunity to create their own donor-advised fund for them. What an incredible gift to receive of having your own fund. I think it also just allows them to explore their own charitable interests too. While it’s important to look at these as a family and what shared interests you might have and things in common, and oftentimes there are those shared values that are also passed along. Maybe some of those interests might look a little bit different. But oftentimes we do hear that maybe it’s that value of self-sufficiency or the value of sustainability that’s been passed through generations, and maybe that future generation sees it slightly differently, but by having their own donor-advised funds, you really give that child, grandchild, anyone in the next generation, permission to maybe explore that a little bit further and be able to make their own grants.

Gwen Wurst:
Yeah, I know some of the times we’ve worked together with families, we’ve heard that they come together annually to tell those stories about where they’re giving. And so then you have that shared values, but also shared language about giving. That’s been such a great experience.

Whitney Hosty:
Absolutely. Another thing we’ve seen too is sometimes we’ll have parents or grandparents willing to match or even double what they’re seeing the next generation give as an incentive for them to contribute on their own, but maybe you can make those dollars go a little bit further if they’re being matched.

Gwen Wurst:
Sure. That’s exciting. So you and I are both parents. Sometimes this can be really overwhelming; I need to add this to everything else. So how do we get started?

Whitney Hosty:
Well, it doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. We have worked with donors who really just start with the small things. Maybe start by going around the dinner table each night and mentioning something you’re grateful for that day. It could be going out of your way to maybe just help the neighbor. Maybe it’s teaching young children to help neighbors bring in the trash bins or mow the lawn if they need some extra help. You could look outside of your own neighborhood. Just looking in your community though; where are places that you go regularly where they might need some help? Maybe it’s that box for the food drive at the grocery store. Maybe it’s just getting your family together even just for a couple hours to go volunteer. There’s some great organizations in our community with wonderful volunteer opportunities. We’ve even seen some donors who will take that on vacation. Maybe they’re on a family vacation together for a week, and they’ll just take a couple hours to go tour the local animal shelter and see what they can do to help out there. So it’s looking for those little opportunities. And those little opportunities we know will just turn into much bigger things for the community and help to instill those important lifelong habits of giving.

Gwen Wurst:
If you’re interested in learning more about ways to engage with your family, please let us know. Our philanthropic advisors are here to help. As well as if you’re interested in a family conversation, we’re happy to facilitate those for you. Thank you for joining us today. We’re here to help you in whatever you need on your philanthropic journey.


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