Family Philanthropy – A Thanksgiving Project

Parents and grandparents have expressed to us the difficultly they face in starting a conversation about philanthropy with their children.

When is it a good time to talk to our kids about it?

Where do we start?

How do we explain it?

We suggest a simple yet powerful holiday project that begins at the dinner table during Thanksgiving and ends during the holiday season in December.

At Thanksgiving dinner the parents or grandparents ask each family member what it is they are thankful for. Ideas you may use to help facilitate the conversation is to ask for talents individuals possess, activities or academic areas family members excel in, and other thought provoking questions. During this exercise, listen for personal interests that may come out as the children give their answers. Also identify personal and family values that may be expressed when listing things they are grateful for.

The next step is to propose a new family tradition to begin this year. This new family tradition is one that centers around philanthropy. Each generation or family unit will be given a set sum of money (ex. $1,000) of which they are responsible for giving away before the end of the year. As a family, with leadership from the older generations, set up guidelines for how the money should be given away. Then, with the help of each family member, start the process of finding charities to give the money to. Use the 5 weeks until the end of the year to search out organizations of interest to the family and narrow down the options based on your findings. Once you have chosen an organization, or multiple entities to give to, deliver the donation as a family rather than just mailing in a check. Keep the family connected with the chosen organization and each other throughout this project.

For more on the project, click Thanksgiving Project Explained.