Family business owners should allow young family members to choose a charity to which to give in order to instill a culture of philanthropy.
By Bea Wolper and Lisa Jolley
Editor's Note: This column is part of an ongoing series by family business leaders and advisors with information and ideas about topics unique to family businesses, developed in conjunction with the Conway Center for Family Business.
Involving a family's next generation in philanthropy is an important part of teaching them about responsibility, continuity of values in the family business and financial stewardship. Establishing a culture of philanthropy offers more than just financial benefits, though.
Philanthropy offers a tangible way for family members to get involved in planning for the future of the business, especially if they are too young to participate in the business itself. Taking a thoughtful, structured approach to charitable giving is the key, especially while senior generations are still active and can teach their family members directly.
There are multiple ways to be philanthropic as a family and family business, including giving directly, giving through a foundation, or giving to one or more charities through donor-advised funds such as at the Columbus Foundation.
Getting the next generation involved in your family business' planned giving also helps future generations understand wealth not as a part of their identity, but a tool they can use to make the world a better place.
Provide younger generations the freedom to donate to whatever cause they like. Letting them choose is as important as exposing them to charitable giving-and eventually their interests are likely to line up with the family business' values.
By selecting a cause he or she particularly cares about, giving will have more meaning for the young family member and make a more lasting impact. Encourage not just financial contributions to causes, but greater involvement by volunteering time and talents to the organizations a family member supports.
Leading by example and giving the next generation the flexibility of choosing their causes and teaching them about the tools available to make good philanthropic decisions is a great way to inspire. Younger family members will be ready for a lifetime of hands-on philanthropy that makes an impact on the community and across the world.
Bea Wolper is a co-founder of the Conway Center for Family Business and serves as an Advisory Board member. She facilitates the Center's Women in Family Business and Succession Planning Peer Groups. She is a partner in the law firm of Emens & Wolper LLP, in Columbus, Ohio.
Lisa Jolley, J.D., is the director of donor services and development at the Columbus Foundation. She works with donors and professional advisors to inspire philanthropy and facilitate giving options that align with an individual's charitable values and mission.