Whether you’re a philanthropic family or a formal foundation, chances are you’ve taken a moment to think about passing on your values to future generations. It is a tough situation. Will the next generation care as much as you do? Will they change the focus of your philanthropy? Will they carry out your mission the same exact way?
It can be hard to have those conversations. But two people that make it easier are Dr. Carolyn Friend and Dr. Jamie Weiner, co-founders of Inheriting Wisdom, an advisory group designed to facilitate, guide, and sustain wealth throughout the generations of families. In their work they have seen plenty of families struggle with how to pass down philanthropic principles and ideals.
According to Dr. Weiner, it’s not just about the how, but about the why, “Our main role is to come up with all the issues behind the money…what usually gets stopped up is the transition of power.” Facilitating a philanthropic transfer of mission can be truly difficult, so we asked the team at Inheriting Wisdom for their advice about getting second and third generations of families involved in philanthropy. They offered the following best practices:
- Empower younger generations to be philanthropic by actually giving them control over funds, not just inviting them to be part of the conversation. Key to this success is the first generation feeling secure in their trust of the second generation.
- Communicate the history of the family’s mission. Creating context for family philanthropy can help the next generation connect to and understand what is important to the family. Despite their reputation for being a digital generation, Millennials crave meaningful connections.
- Put younger generations in charge of philanthropic innovation. Trying new and interesting tactics are the most interesting things to young philanthropists and can help a foundation grow and learn.
- Be transparent and clear about how money is allocated to the foundation versus other expenses.
The bottom line says Dr. Friend is to create a context for how your family donates, thinking of your values and what you want to communicate, “Transferring wealth is one thing; transferring a mission is another.”
For more information about Inheriting Wisdom, including upcoming speaking events, visit their website at www.inheritingwisdom.com.