Family Philanthropy: Creating a Lasting Giving Legacy

Family philanthropy offers a powerful way to have an impact on the causes that matter most to you. It also can bring families closer throughout the year; by creating a forum for shared experiences and values, you may get to know one another on a deeper level and strengthen your bonds.

Of course, family philanthropy is not always simple. Generations may not share the same interests or motivations for giving. They may approach giving in different ways—some may be focused on traditional grantmaking, while others want to invest for impact or experiment with new approaches. Family philanthropy allows you to learn more about what matters to each individual. It also allows you to talk about your values and engage the next generation to create a lasting giving legacy while bonding and bringing the family together.


What Is Family Philanthropy?

Family philanthropy is simply giving as a family. It is a concept that utilizes the power of legacy to increase philanthropy’s impact, both on the impacted causes and the participating family members.

There are many tools families can use to practice family philanthropy, whether it is through a family foundation or a donor-advised fund (DAF). Donor-advised funds offer numerous advantages compared to a foundation. With an NPT DAF, you can grant and create a lasting, permanent giving legacy as a family. Because NPT is itself a public charity staffed by experts in charitable administration, choosing to operate your family philanthropy through an NPT DAF may save you time and resources. We will help you spend less time dealing with the complicated, managerial side of giving and more time focusing on the philanthropic goals that your family wants to achieve.

Creating a Family Giving Plan

The first step of family philanthropy is creating a family giving strategy. When crafting your family philanthropy plan, you can use these steps:

Planning Your Strategy
Planning Your Strategy
Starting a Dialogue
Starting a Dialogue
Tips for Better Family Giving
Tips for Better Family Giving
  1. Align on your goals.
  2. Develop your family giving strategy.
  3. Decide on your giving vehicle.
  4. Determine your decision-making structure and how you will manage your budget.
  5. Have a succession plan.

Learn more about how to establish a giving tradition.

Family philanthropy is not always easy. Here are some tips to help start the dialogue:

  1. Have an honest conversation to express thoughts and opinions openly.
  2. Discuss everything as a family, or call in a professional if needed.
  3. Listen.
  4. Go beyond the first pass of noticing that everyone has different priorities.
  5. Find similarities within those differences and find a common motivation. For example, do all of the causes have geography in common?
  6. Agree to disagree.

Donor Story: Creating a Giving Legacy

The Challenge

Three brothers, co-owners of a company and all generous donors, wanted to make charitable grants. They needed a giving vehicle that would satisfy their individual and collective philanthropic goals without creating excessive expense or administrative responsibility.



The Solution – Getting involved with our philanthropic services team.

The brothers opted to create individual donor-advised funds to recommend grants in support of the causes that resonated with them personally. Then, they created a fourth fund for their family philanthropy to have the shared experience of giving as a family. This unique solution provided convenience, efficiency and flexibility without additional expense. The brothers also customized succession plans for all of their donor-advised funds to continue their personal and family philanthropic legacies.

Related Resources

The Philanthropist blog from NPT provides expert advice on what’s trending in philanthropy, why it matters and how NPT brings it all together. Here are some popular posts related to the topic of family philanthropy:

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