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Wealth of Wisdom

The Top 50 Questions Wealthy Families Ask


Section 7 - Giving Well


Philanthropy – the love (philo) of humanity (anthropos) – has been a part of the lives of wealthy families for millennia. With their dollars and time, they have helped the poor, built libraries and hospitals, become patrons of the arts, and advocated for human and political causes. Societies, locally and around the world, have benefited from these gifts.

But wealthy families themselves have also benefited from philanthropy. They have experienced the joy of giving to others and seeing progress. Through giving, they have helped to cultivate a spirit of generosity among their family members. And they have seen how a common external cause can knit their clan together and build powerful enduring cross-generation values, counteracting the natural entropy families face over time.

In some ways, we are now in a golden age of philanthropy as mega-wealthy donors – Bill Gates and Warren Buffett come to mind – commit large portions of their wealth to charitable endeavors. At all levels of wealth, families are wrestling with many of the same philanthropic questions and issues. How much of our wealth should go to our heirs and how much to charity? What is a good investment of time and money? What are the right vehicles? How do we make wise decisions? How do we involve others?

Our contributing authors will shed some light on some of these issues and give you some food for thought along the journey of family philanthropy.

There is a whole vocabulary about philanthropy these days, which can be confusing. Ellen Remmer answers those questions directly: ‘What is the difference between charity, philanthropy, strategic philanthropy and impact investing?’ She also provides many examples and tips to help families decide how they want to approach their giving and charitable investing.

When we think of our wishes for our children, most of us would include among them an attitude of authentic generosity, which often displays itself as gratitude, kindness, and a sense of community. Alasdair Halliday and Anne McClintock answer the question “How can you encourage generosity in your family?” and show how philanthropy can be an important tool in developing that spirit among all members of the family.

The problem is that it is often difficult to interest and involve younger generations in family philanthropy. Sometimes, based on their stage of development, they may have other interests and priorities; in other cases, philanthropy been built into the culture and practice of the family. Lisa Parker’s essay answers the question “How do you engage children and grandchildren in philanthropy?” with some highly practical advice and suggestions that are sure to encourage engagement.

Good philanthropy requires planning and forethought, but it also has a strong emotional side, often driven by passion, vision, and calling. Barnaby Marsh knits these threads together and looks at how you can wisely develop a long-term strategy for your philanthropy. He helps us think about why we give, how our giving might shift in the future as the world changes, and how we stay focused yet flexible on our philanthropic mission.

Those families who embrace and nurture their philanthropic urgings will give gifts, but are likely to receive significant gifts as well. Philanthropy allows families to face outward together. It encourages them to reach beyond the immediate and dream big. It provides purpose and meaning to life. And it encourages humanity and character in its members. Enjoy the journey.

Preview Section 8

Chapter 41 – What Is the Difference Between Charity, Philanthropy, Strategic Philanthropy, and Impact Investing?
Ellen Remmer

Chapter 42 – How Can You Encourage Generosity in Your Family?
Alasdair Halliday and Anne McClintock

Chapter 43 – How Do You Engage Children and Grandchildren in Philanthropy?
Lisa Parker

Chapter 44 – How Can You Wisely Develop a Long-Term Strategy for Your Philanthropy?
Barnaby Marsh

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