Involving the younger generation in philanthropy
While some philanthropists set up a foundation as an individual venture, some others may want to get family members involved.
This can be for a variety of reasons, such as a means of passing down the values that matter to them to the next generation, or to provide a ‘safe’ environment for young people to engage with the ‘real’ world and to hone useful decision-making and management skills, or a constructive way to bring branches of a family and generations together on a regular basis. It may also help to set up smooth generational succession, including helping to head off unmet expectations for inheritance and other tensions that can arise when family members feel disenfranchised by the diversion of wealth to charitable causes.
Many family foundations are very aware of the benefit of involving younger generations and so have developed specific processes to gradually bring them into operations. This might be inviting them on trips overseas to visit the projects they support, or simply more regular open communication about the family’s giving. There are more formal options too – like junior boards.
How young is too young?
There is no minimum age for young people to take part in your family’s giving in an informal way. If you want them on a board or in a fiduciary role, you need to check the rules in your jurisdiction of choice but other than that there is nothing to stop you involving them. Empathy comes naturally to children at a young age and is the cornerstone of giving – so you may want to bring even young children into your giving in an advisory capacity. Also, the excitement and passion that young people bring can re-energize a foundation and smooth succession in a family philanthropy can pave the way for succession in private wealth or business structures.
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