How do you discuss philanthropy and charity in your family? Growing up in mine the act of charity was never really discussed. It was done, but I think there were some opportunities lost in having an open dialogue with my parents around how they donate their money. Don't get me wrong, my family is very generous with their time and their financial resources, it was just never discussed.
One of my earliest childhood memories was putting loose change in what we call a pushke (Yiddish for coin box). Once the box was full we would take it to the community centre where the money would go to one of many Jewish charities.
As I got older, my own personal contributions to community broadened. Supporting organizations' internal capacity is just as important to me as supporting a specific project. As well, recognizing that my cultural community is only one part of a larger picture, my philanthropy is a representation of all the communities that I am actively engaged with. For a complete list of the charities and organizations that I support please click here.
As I have said in pervious posts, it is important to ask questions. Questions of the charity in which you are about to make a financial investment AND questions of you and your family as to how you want to make those donations. In the very first post of this blog I laid out a series of questions you should be asking yourself. Those questions were to get the ball rolling. Below are some more that you might want to ask yourself and your family as you delve deeper in to philanthropic investing.
What was your fist charitable donation? What was your first major donation (a dollar amount that you had to really think about)?
How did your family discuss charity in your house? Was it action based?
What has been your most important charitable investment? When did you make it? What made it important? Was it your most important charitable gift your largest?
How did you make your financial wealth? Has that influenced you in how you contribute back to your community?
As someone who has financial resources, do you think it is your responsibility to support community initiatives?
How do you leverage your charitable dollars with your family, friends and colleagues? Do you?
Is it important to you that your contribution (whether time, money or professional expertise) be recognized publicly?
If money were not an object, is there a project or organization you would invest in?
How do you think your charitable contributions are going to change over time? Are you speaking with your children about how you give and learning from them how they are contributing back to society?
For more in-depth questions I suggest you refer to Scott Fithian's book, Values-Based Estate Planning. Or stay tuned - I am sure that future blog postings will add another layer of questions!