Teaching Responsibility Through Family Philanthropy

Giving as a family provides a unique opportunity to teach your children important life skills that will not only enhance their knowledge, but also their character.

Family philanthropy offers opportunities for family members of all ages to experience the joy of giving. It's also one of the best methods to help family members learn to work together, which is a key component in creating a legacy that will survive multiple generations.

The benefits of family philanthropy are extraordinary. It can help to solidify family values, as family members work together, communicate with each other and learn to trust one another. Here are some key ways in which families can take advantage of this opportunity:


Make Gifting Decisions Communally

Doing this can help younger family members develop a variety of skills, including communication, negotiation, shared decision making, leadership, accountability, investing and financial literacy.


Remember That It's More About the Giving Than the Amount

Studies have shown that individuals receive many of the same personal benefits from charitable giving regardless of the amount of money that they actually give.


Have a Family Meeting About Your Philanthropic Goals

Conversations about charity have a greater positive impact on children than parents simply demonstrating their own philanthropic activity.1 This conversation is worthwhile, regardless of the child's age.


Make Sure Your Family Philanthropy Program Includes These Four Components

To maintain a good program over time, you should: choose projects based on shared values; involve the whole family in decision-making; measure and evaluate results; and apply what you've learned to future decisions.

“Family philanthropy is not just about giving money away; it is about giving money away as a family.”
You don't need a private foundation to establish a family philanthropy program.
Consider a donor-advised fund

Donor-advised funds offer user-friendly, online experiences and can serve as an excellent resource for parents or grandparents to begin a program for younger members of their family.

It's never too early to start giving

Children as young as five can participate in a family philanthropy initiative and get involved with the administration and investments of the program.

Think about doing more than just giving

You could encourage family members to actively volunteer with an organization or to include a small personal gift along with the donation.

  •  1Dunn, E.W., Aknin, L.B., & Norton, M.I., "Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness," Science (2008)

    Based on articles by Justin T. Miller, J.D., LL.M., TEP, CFP®, National Wealth Strategist at BNY Mellon and adjunct professor at Golden Gate University School of Law. Edited and reprinted with permission from WealthManagement.com.

  • This material is provided for illustrative/educational purposes only. This material is not intended to constitute legal, tax, investment or financial advice. Effort has been made to ensure that the material presented herein is accurate at the time of publication. However, this material is not intended to be a full and exhaustive explanation of the law in any area or of all of the tax, investment or financial options available. The information discussed herein may not be applicable to or appropriate for every investor and should be used only after consultation with professionals who have reviewed your specific situation.BNY Mellon Wealth Management conducts business through various operating subsidiaries of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation. ©2016 The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation. All rights reserved.