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Set an example for philanthropy for your children

As a child, whether she knew it or not, Becki Kurdle was making mental notes that would help lead her to her love of giving and helping others. Her parents’ volunteerism left an indelible impression on her. Kurdle, a former director of Planning and Zoning for Anne Arundel County, and a founding member and 2004 board chair of the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, has been committed to supporting her community throughout her life, both as a volunteer and donor.

Now, as Kurdle examines where she is in her life, she wants to involve her grandchildren in philanthropy and recently made her grandson William a successor adviser on her CFAAC Donor Advised Fund.

“I just thought it was time to turn over the reins,” she said. 

Intergenerational philanthropy

Turning over the reins can start earlier than you think. A key finding on intergenerational giving, according to a Family Giving Traditions study, is that 45% of those who grew up with strong giving traditions donate $5,000 or more annually than those who did not.

There are many ways you can start a meaningful tradition of giving in your own family. It begins by making your children aware of others’ needs and recognizing what unique gifts they have to share. Talk about the importance of giving back and volunteering together; even young children can participate in a neighborhood cleanup, hold a bake sale for charity or engage in charitable activities to support or honor a family member.

You can also incorporate charitable giving into your children’s allowance. As they grow older, involve them in selecting where donations should go. Visit the nonprofits you are considering, and, if you have a fund, invite them to participate in grantmaking like Kurdle is doing with her grandson.

Intergenerational family giving can be strengthened by the unique perspectives that each generation brings to the table. For example, Kurdle’s grandson talked with his brother and sister about where some of the grant money would be apportioned, and each decided to support different causes that were close to their heart, distributing the funding to four nonprofits.

Kurdle said that working with CFAAC helped to make the process easy because she was able to rely on the staff to facilitate their grantmaking, leaving her to focus on enjoying the experience of witnessing her grandson’s growing interest in giving back.

For Kurdle, encouraging giving throughout generations is all about setting an example and establishing a pattern of giving early on.

“Setting a good example of giving back is critical,” she said. “Many people think that philanthropy is only for the rich, but it isn’t. When I was right out of college, I was giving $25 a year, and back then, that was a lot for me. The important thing is to establish a pattern of giving for yourself and your kids. Then, as you age, the pattern is already there so you can just increase the amount of money or the number of ways that you can give.”

Planned giving: A great opportunity

Donors of all ages are recognizing the benefits of using deliberate gift planning as part of their overall financial planning so they can make a bigger difference in the causes they care about during and after their lifetimes.

One way to use planned giving to designate immediate and future charitable gifts is by opening a Donor Advised Fund, which allows you to contribute to nonprofits of your choice and receive an immediate tax deduction while planning for the continuation of that support from your fund after your lifetime. Opening a DAF and involving the whole family can be a great way to encourage your children to think about philanthropy. DAFs give you the flexibility to spread out your giving over time, and as your children grow older, you can designate them as fund advisers and eventually as the successor fund advisers as Kurdle has done. This way, your children or grandchildren can make a difference in the community, continuing your legacy of giving, while firmly establishing their own and ensuring that philanthropy remains alive and well in your family.

Simply put, partnering with and encouraging your children and grandchildren to give back can not only bring a family closer, but also strengthen an entire community. Start young if you can, but remember, it’s never too late to begin.

Mary Spencer is the president & CEO at the Community Foundations of Anne Arundel County.

This story was originally printed in the March 5, 2022 edition of the CAPITAL GAZETTE.


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