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9 Tips for Engaging Family Members in Philanthropy
Kris Putnam-Walkerly -- Global Philanthropy Expert Kris Putnam-Walkerly -- Global Philanthropy Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Cleveland, OH
Tuesday, May 14, 2024


A key challenge in family philanthropy is engaging diverse family members in a meaningful and resonant way. Each individual brings their unique perspective, values, and interests, which can make it challenging to create a unified approach to family philanthropy. However, by embracing these differences and employing various strategies, you can foster a more inclusive and impactful philanthropic journey. Whether you’re just getting started or a seasoned philanthropist, here are nine top ways to involve family members in family philanthropy:

  1. Understand Individual Interests and Passions: Take the time to understand each family member’s interests, concerns, and areas of passion. Some may be drawn to environmental causes, while others may resonate more with education or healthcare initiatives. By tailoring philanthropic efforts to align with their personal motivations, you create a stronger sense of connection and investment.
  2. Encourage Active Participation: Instead of dictating philanthropic initiatives from the top-down, create opportunities for family members to actively participate in the decision-making process. Establish a collaborative approach where everyone has a voice and can contribute their ideas and perspectives. This fosters a sense of ownership and engagement.
  3. Leverage Diverse Skills and Expertise: Family members often bring a wealth of diverse skills and professional experiences to the table. Identify and leverage these unique strengths by involving individuals in areas where their expertise can be most valuable. For instance, those with financial backgrounds can assist with investment strategies, while others with marketing experience can manage the website or contribute to communications campaigns.
  4. Facilitate Hands-On Experiences: Provide opportunities for family members to engage in hands-on philanthropic activities, such as volunteering, site visits, or meeting with grantees. These experiences can create a deeper emotional connection and understanding of the impact their efforts can have.
  5. Embrace Generational Differences: Recognize that different generations may have varying perspectives and approaches to philanthropy. Younger generations may be more attuned to digital grantmaking platforms and innovative solutions, while older generations may value more traditional methods. Foster intergenerational dialogue and learning opportunities to bridge these gaps and create a more cohesive approach.
  6. Tailor Engagement Levels: Recognize that family members have varying levels of availability and capacity based on their age and life stage. For younger members, you might want to incorporate interactive activities aligned with their interests.  Those launching their careers or starting families might need flexible options requiring minimal time commitments to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Allow family philanthropy engagement levels to ebb and flow as personal circumstances change.
  7. Establish Clear Communication Channels: Effective communication is crucial to effectively engage family members in philanthropy. Establish regular meetings, forums, or digital platforms where family members can share updates, discuss ideas, and engage in open dialogue. Transparent communication can help mitigate potential conflicts and foster a sense of unity.
  8. Celebrate Contributions: Recognize and celebrate the diverse contributions of each family member. Highlight successes, milestones, and the unique value that each individual brings to philanthropic efforts. This recognition can reinforce a sense of belonging and motivation.
  9. Seek Expert Guidance When Needed: Sometimes, navigating the complexities of family philanthropy requires external expertise. Engaging a philanthropy advisor or family philanthropy expert can provide crucial guidance in facilitating family meetings, addressing challenges, and crafting a structured giving plan. These professionals bring valuable insights and strategies that can enhance the effectiveness of your philanthropic efforts. Investing in expert advice ensures that your family’s philanthropic activities are both impactful and aligned with your collective values.

By embracing diversity and creating an inclusive environment, engaging family members in philanthropy can become a unifying force that brings different perspectives together towards a common goal of making a positive impact. Remember, the strength of family philanthropy lies in the collective effort and shared commitment to creating meaningful change.

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This article was originally written and published on Forbes.com.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Kris Putnam-Walkerly
Title: Global Philanthropy Expert
Group: Putnam Consulting Group, Inc.
Dateline: Westlake, OH United States
Main Phone: 800-598-2102
Cell Phone: 510-388-5231
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