When it comes to charity, we all have our passions. These are the problems and causes that are important to us and which tend to receive most of the money we can afford to give.
Personally speaking, it is human trafficking. When I was 10, my family and I narrowly escaped a military coup in Liberia. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to come to the United States and were extremely well received by the community we moved to. As a result, I was able to continue to lead a happy and fun life.
But many boys and girls, including many in Liberia at the time, are not so lucky. Many are being moved around the world illegally, never having a chance to call home anywhere, let alone realize their potential. Due to my experiences, I want to be part of addressing this issue and I would very much like my grandchildren to continue that job after I am gone.
The power of why
But here’s the thing: I’m not going to insist that they do. This is because I strongly believe that the way to inspire future generations to give charity is not to inform them about the causes you support or even to explain how you do it. It is by helping them to truly understand Why.
In other words, I want the next generations of my family to feel connected to the reasons why I invest my money to fight human trafficking. To give them a window into my soul, including telling them a more detailed version of the story I mentioned earlier regarding my experiences in Liberia.
They might then say, “Grandpa, that’s great. I want to be a part of it, “which is great. But they might also say,” Grandpa, I totally understand your motivation, but what I’m passionate about is actually X or Y. “
Either way, the result is good because they are now engaged in the concept of charity. So even if they choose not to follow my exact “what” path, they appreciate the “why” and are more likely to make philanthropy a part of their life in the future.
A virtuous circle
As for how to achieve it, as I said, it partly depends on willingness to reveal your soul as to why you invest in the charities you do. But you should also try to involve future generations in your giving as soon as you feel comfortable doing it.
So when you go to the annual fundraiser, take them with you. When you’re reviewing your annual contribution, talk to them through it. And use real-life examples to show them the difference your donations are making.
Once they’re old enough, you can even go a step further and set up a matching scheme to help them inspire them to support a charity of their choice. So, if, for example, you give $ 30,000 a year to charity, you might say to your nephew or niece, “Hey, I’ll give you $ 5,000 to invest in a cause you feel strongly about.” All they have to do is match it up, with real money or through efforts, such as helping with fundraising or volunteering at events and projects.
This works particularly well because then you will find yourself having an annual meeting on the contribution you have made together, on how it was invested and on possible projects or ideas for the following year. You have created a kind of virtuous circle in which they have a voice and which continually deepens their commitment to charitable donations as they age.
A lasting legacy
Of course, the problems and causes your grandchildren choose to support will almost certainly change based on their experiences and motivations, as well as the evolving nature of the world around them. (It’s unlikely, after all, that many of our great-grandparents have invested in the kind of climate change projects many of us feel strongly about now.)
But what matters is that you have sown. You have inspired future generations to make charitable giving as important a part of their financial planning as streamlining their tax issues or setting up a retirement fund.
Just like our personal passions for philanthropy, we all have our own unique ideas about the kind of legacy we want to leave our loved ones after we leave. But inspiring a new generation of charitable donors seems like a great place to start!
Diversity & Inclusion Director, Executive VP, Equitable Advisors
Stephen Dunbar, executive vice president of Equitable, has created a thriving financial services practice where he empowers others to make informed decisions and take charge of their own future. He and his team recommend over $ 3 billion in AUM and $ 1.5 billion in protective coverage. As National Director of DEI for Equitable, Stephen acts as a change agent for the organization, creating a culture of diversity and inclusion. He holds a BA in Finance from Rutgers and a JD from Stanford.