• Service: Enterprise, Family business
  • Type: Business and industry issue
  • Date: 1/10/2013

A strategy for multi-generational engagement with the charitable planning process 

Multi-generational engagement
Giving feels good – in fact, scientists have discovered that being involved in charitable actions raises dopamine levels in the brain and strengthens social bonds, both of which have positive effects on our general physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Reason enough to rope the younger members of your family into the charitable actions in which your family business is involved…

Philanthropy is an excellent way for the next-generation family members to learn the skills they’ll need to be successful stewards of the family legacy when their turn comes around.

What charitable actions teach the next generation:

  • Being involved in philanthropic activities is good for the heart and soul
  • How to take responsibility
  • Taking the family constitution seriously and enacting its values
  • How to work in, or even lead, a team
  • Practical experience in giving presentations and interacting with others as a family ambassador
  • How to compile and manage budgets.

Engaging with charitable planning

Now that you know why it’s good to get your children and grandchildren involved in charitable actions, here’s how to develop a strategy to get them engaged with the charitable planning process…

Talk about the family’s history and rise to ‘fame and fortune’ – particularly stories about how and when other people went out of their way to help the family achieve success when times were hard. Discuss family values – as defined in the family business constitution and through the family’s philanthropic actions.

Consider the nature of the family’s charitable actions – how did the family business come to be involved with a particular designated charity (or charities)? Is it just a question of writing a cheque, or is the family actively involved? How are they involved?

Talk about what giving back means to members of the family, and to the family business as a whole – let older individuals share their stories about what being involved in the family’s philanthropy has meant to them.

Philanthropic actions speak louder than words

Show the younger generation the results of the charity’s work – who or what is benefitting, and why, and what goes into making it work – the planning process, day-to-day management, and the people behind the charity’s success.

Ask for their help and support in carrying your work, or the family business’ support, forward into the future. Discuss their ideas for how to raise money or facilitate improvements in the way in which the charity conducts its business, delivers its services, or achieves its goals.

Facilitate learning opportunities through encouraging active involvement in the management of the family’s charitable actions, volunteering on the ground, canvassing support, and fundraising.

Set up a ‘charity-within-a-charity’ – set aside a small budget with its own specific objectives for the next generation to manage on their own. Create a separate pool of funds which they can use to create their own charity or fulfill their own philanthropic objectives.

Be sure to allow members of the younger generation to base such charitable activities on their particular individual interests, personalities, skills, and life experiences.

Encouraging entrepreneurship through philanthropy

As a role model and mentor, allow your own philanthropic activities to be transparent and visible, so that the next generation is exposed to such activities from the earliest age and are given opportunities to model themselves on your behaviour.

Be generous and free with your own knowledge, expertise, and experience. Encourage them, not only to use the funds made available to them, but to contribute on their own account – either by donating a portion of their own allowance (which you could promise to match), or by creative fundraising or entrepreneurial activities of their own.

Christophe Bernard

Christophe Bernard
I am a KPMG partner based in the French firm’s Paris office, responsible for encouraging the growth of our firms’ middle markets practice across Europe, Middle East and Africa, a majority of that market comprises of family businesses.

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