How to Create a Family Foundation for Charitable Giving

Hey fellow moms! Ever thought about teaching your kids the value of giving back and making a difference together as a family? Starting a family foundation for charitable giving is a wonderful way to do just that. It sounds fancy, but it’s really about coming together to support causes that matter to you. Let’s break it down step-by-step!


What is a Family Foundation?

Let’s take a moment to clear up what exactly a family foundation is. It might sound like a big, complicated thing, but it’s actually pretty straightforward.

A family foundation is essentially a way for your family to organize and manage your charitable giving. Think of it as a family piggy bank dedicated to supporting causes you care about.

A family foundation is a private organization that your family controls. You set it up with money that you want to use for charitable purposes. Once it’s set up, you can donate that money to different charities over time, rather than all at once.

Step 1: Gather the Troops

First things first, get everyone on board. Have a family meeting where everyone, including the kids, can share their ideas and passions. This is a great way to find out what causes are important to each family member.

Maybe one kid is passionate about animals, another about the environment, and you might have a soft spot for helping the homeless.

Step 2: Define Your Mission

Now that you have everyone’s input, it’s time to define your mission. Think about what you want to achieve as a family.

Your mission statement doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be as simple as “Helping those in need in our community” or “Supporting education and wildlife conservation.”

Keep it clear and meaningful to everyone involved.

As Fidelity Charitable advises, “One productive first step is to create a mission statement that focuses on the charitable sectors most important to your family. For example, older family members may wish to focus on the arts, while younger ones may be more attracted to social responsibility. Conduct a frank, open dialogue that addresses potential areas of conflict early on. A financial advisor, philanthropic advisor, or philanthropic strategist at a donor-advised fund may be able to help facilitate a productive family meeting to review some of these questions.”

Step 3: Set Up the Foundation

Setting up a foundation might sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are different ways to do this depending on how formal you want to be.

Types of Family Foundations

There are a few ways you can structure your family foundation, depending on how formal you want to be and how much money you plan to give:

Informal Family Fund

This is the easiest way to start. You can set aside a portion of your family’s budget for charitable giving and decide together how to use it.

Donor-Advised Fund

This is a bit more formal. You can open a donor-advised fund through a community foundation or financial institution. It’s like a charitable savings account where you can contribute funds, get an immediate tax deduction, and recommend grants to your favorite charities over time.


Private Family Foundation

This is the most formal and involves more paperwork and legal steps. It’s a separate legal entity with its own board of directors (which could be your family members).

It’s great for families who want to give a substantial amount or support a variety of causes over a long period.

According to Investopedia, “Unlike a public charity, a private foundation typically makes donations, called “grants,” to other charities. It usually does not conduct its own charitable operations. Private foundations make grants either to fund an organization’s general operating expenses or a specific program. They can also make grants to individuals if they follow Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules.”

Step 4: Decide on Funding

Next, figure out how you will fund your foundation. Will you contribute a percentage of your income each year? Maybe you’ll have a family garage sale and donate the proceeds.

Encourage the kids to get involved by setting aside part of their allowance or birthday money. The idea is to make it a family effort.

Step 5: Choose Your Causes

With your mission in mind and funds ready, it’s time to choose the causes you want to support. This can be the most fun part!

Research local charities, look for volunteer opportunities, and consider projects that align with your mission. Involve the kids in researching and choosing – it makes them feel part of the decision-making process and teaches them valuable skills.

Step 6: Give and Reflect

Once you’ve made your decisions, start giving! Whether it’s donating money, volunteering your time, or a combination of both, the act of giving is incredibly rewarding. Make sure to have regular family meetings to discuss the impact of your giving.

Reflect on what you’ve achieved, what you’ve learned, and how you can improve. This keeps everyone engaged and motivated.

Step 7: Have Fun with It

Remember, this is a family project, so have fun with it! Celebrate your achievements, big or small.

Plan family outings around volunteer activities, and use these opportunities to bond and create lasting memories. The goal is not just to give but to grow closer as a family and instill the values of generosity and compassion in your children.

The Importance of Charitable Giving

Now, let’s chat about why charitable giving is so important. We all know it’s good to help others, but there are some deeper reasons why giving back can be one of the most rewarding things we do as a family.

Teaching Values

Charitable giving teaches our kids about empathy, kindness, and responsibility.

When they see us helping others, they learn the importance of caring for those in need. It’s a practical way to teach them that we all have a role to play in making the world a better place.


Strengthening Communities

When we give to local charities or community projects, we’re directly helping to improve our own neighborhoods. Whether it’s supporting the local food bank, a community garden, or a school fundraiser, our donations can have a tangible impact on the place we call home.

Personal Growth

Giving back can also be a powerful experience for us as individuals. It helps us to appreciate what we have and to develop a sense of gratitude.

It can be incredibly fulfilling to know that we’re making a difference in someone else’s life.

Setting a Positive Example

By involving our kids in charitable giving, we’re setting a positive example for them to follow. They learn that even small actions can have a big impact. This helps them grow into thoughtful, compassionate adults who are aware of the world around them and motivated to make it better.

According to Fifth Third Bank, “An overlooked benefit of a family foundation is teaching and developing the next generation. Foundations can be an excellent vehicle for instilling both big-picture values while offering an outlet for helping younger generations learn practical lessons that come with managing wealth and managing organizations.

Each member of the foundation will gradually learn more about the foundation’s mission in some way. The most involved members often choose to make it their life mission, too.”

Creating Bonds

Charitable giving is a great way to bond as a family. When we work together on a project, whether it’s a fundraiser or a volunteer day, we’re creating shared experiences and memories.

These moments strengthen our family ties and give us something meaningful to look back on.

Making the World a Better Place

This might sound obvious, but it’s worth mentioning – charitable giving helps make the world a better place. When we support causes we care about, we’re contributing to positive change.

Whether it’s helping to protect the environment, supporting education, or providing relief in times of disaster, our contributions matter.

Encouraging Gratitude

When we give to those in need, it can help us and our kids develop a sense of gratitude for what we have. It’s a gentle reminder that not everyone is as fortunate and that we have the power to help others. This perspective can be a grounding and humbling experience for everyone in the family.

Enhancing Well-being

Believe it or not, giving can also make us feel good. Studies have shown that charitable giving can boost our mood and overall well-being. It’s often referred to as the “helper’s high” – the warm, fuzzy feeling we get when we help someone else.

Charitable giving is about more than just donating money. It’s about teaching values, building community, growing as individuals, and making meaningful connections with our family and the world around us.

So, let’s get our families involved, have fun with it, and make a difference together. After all, every little bit helps, and together, we can achieve great things.

To Wrap Up

Creating a family foundation for charitable giving is a beautiful way to teach our kids about the importance of helping others. It’s not just about writing checks; it’s about coming together as a family to make a difference in the world. Let’s inspire our kids to be kind, caring, and generous – the world needs more of that!

Kathy Urbanski

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