The parents are committed to local nonprofits with a focus on animals. The college-aged children understand the importance of supporting local groups, but they’re passionate about Africa and clean water. The two sides had come to think they could never come together on a common mission.
So we talked. And what conversations we had! The vehicle for this “give and take” was a process that focused on shared values and motivations, individual giving approaches, and legacy within the family. For example, I heard great stories from the parents’ childhood and how they learned about philanthropy from their parents, grandparents, and extended family members.
We also had more difficult discussions surrounding the definition of ‘obligation,’ how to communicate externally the family’s giving strategy, and what types of grant follow-up and evaluation might be appropriate (the fine line between due diligence and not overwhelming their grantees with reports they would never read).
It wasn’t all work. We laughed a lot, which is an important thing to remember. If you’re not having fun with your foundation, you’re missing out.
Ultimately, we took the shared values unearthed in our conversation and found areas of intersection. From there, we crafted granting and giving guidelines that honored those shared values but also provided for the diverse interests. The whole process took a couple of good work sessions over a weekend and follow-up conference calls to ensure everyone was satisfied with the final documents and planning outcomes.
The takeaway? Differences between generations are inevitable, so don’t let them stop the conversation. Keep talking and you’ll find a way for both sides to increase the impact of the foundation.
Hammer & Associates creates and manages charitable foundations for families, individuals, and businesses. Call 303-319-3029 for a free consultation.