Philanthropy Advice: Figuring out the best way to give back as a family

2013-09-05T13:00:00Z Philanthropy Advice: Figuring out the best way to give back as a familyAshley Boyer
September 05, 2013 1:00 pm  • 

If you are looking to reinforce charitable values in your children, consider making philanthropy a family activity. But with more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States to choose, how do families decide which organization to support?

Andrea Proulx Buinicki, president of Giving Focus, a philanthropy consulting firm based in Valparaiso, recommends evaluating the family’s values and considering the options together.

“The family needs to consider their values that they want to be reflected in their philanthropy, where they want to give money and experience that joy,” Proulx Buinicki said. (See the sidebar for more recommendations on how to facilitate this discussion).

Each year, the Farrall family of Valparaiso meets to discuss how each child plans to donate his or her charity proceeds they have saved throughout the year. The three Farrall children separate the money they earn from getting good grades in thirds: one third for spending (on a new bicycle or phone, for example); one third for saving (in passbook savings and stocks) and one third for charity.

Greg and his wife, Liz, match each child’s donation to an organization of his or her choice. Greg said the yearly meeting provides great conversation and even greater family interaction.

“What has been fun about this meeting over the years is that each child has come to try something new,” Greg said. “One year for example, our daughter was really into giraffes. We had to research and find a giraffe refuge in Africa for her. We had no idea such a thing even existed.”

Another way to encourage your children toward giving is to reinforce the philanthropic values your child is learning in school. Proulx Buinicki suggests speaking to your children’s teacher about projects that are being done in class.

“Talk to your children about what they’re doing and giving back to the community,” Proulx Buinicki said, “and support your kids in any philanthropy or volunteering they may be doing.”

Families do not have to have a sizable foundation or make large donations or make a difference. The Farralls have a donor-advised fund with Porter County Community Foundation. A donor-advised fund is a charitable giving account administered by a public local or national charity.

“We are part of the community and decided, although there are numerous donor-advised funds in the world that are fantastic, the Porter County Community Foundation was perfect for what we wanted to do,” Greg said.

The Farrall family’s model not only brings the family together and teaches children about the importance of philanthropy, but it also makes an impact in the community.

“People have to remember and we tell our kids this: it does not matter if you are giving a dollar or a billion dollars,” Greg said. “What matters is every little bit helps and what really matters is simple: the conversation.”

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