At the Community Foundation, it’s our job to help folks in our community realize their potential to give and help them easily navigate the process. We often get questions from families who wish to make giving a part of their family’s life, but giving is very personal and we rarely share information about our individual motivations or finances – even within our families. How should a family introduce giving into their daily conversations? And today, everyone is busy and life in most households with children can be hectic.  Finding time to help others can seem daunting. So how do you make it a priority? Our first suggestion to your family is to create a Family Giving Mission to define your family’s intentions and desires in helping others. Not only will this make it easier to make giving a priority, it will help your whole family recognize opportunities to make a difference and keep it top of mind.

Here’s how:

  1. Include the whole family. Be sure to include everyone in your household regardless of age. Are there grandparents that live close? Include them. Make it clear that everyone is expected to participate and that this isn’t a punishment or list of rules, but a guide to helping your family help others. Make it fun!
  2. Homework Assignment. Before you come together as a group, have everyone do some reflection of their own. Ask everyone to consider:
    1. What special talents do I have?
    2. What kinds of problems does our community face?
    3. How do I help people now?
    4. How would l like our family to help others?
  3. Call a Family Meeting. Gather the family and prepare for discussion. Review everyone’s ‘homework.’ This will get the creative juices flowing. Then consider the following as a group and, don’t forget, there are no right or wrong answers in brainstorming.
    1. What issues does our community face/what opportunities for helping are available?
    2. What do we care about and why? Is there an organization in particular that we would like to get involved with?
    3. How can we make a difference as a group? What do we have to offer?
    4. How often can we help? 
  4. Create your Mission. Articulate your family’s philanthropic values by developing a family giving mission statement—a few sentences that describe the goals you are trying to achieve through your charitable giving (e.g. “providing safe housing” – “ending hunger in our community” – “ensuring quality educational opportunities for all”). Allow everyone to write down their own vision and share it with the rest of the family. Use the discussion that ensues to reach consensus around the shared principles that you believe should guide your giving. The resulting mission statement can then be consulted for future giving and volunteering decisions. Do a search and see if there are events that you can put on the calendar that support your mission of helping. The Community Foundation has staff experts who can discuss with givers the various non-profits serving a particular charitable cause..
  5. Revisit. Every year, revisit your Family Giving Mission as a group. Discuss where you’ve had success and how you might need to revise your plans.

By defining your intentions as a group, you’re more likely to meet your goals. And, everyone will be excited about the work you’re doing together to help others in your community. We’d love to hear from you – Let us know how it goes!