Building a Legacy of Giving-The Later Years

With persistence all parents can instil a legacy of giving in their children. The last edition looked at how to sow the seeds of giving in the early years and the benefits that provides to the family and the child. The following article outlines how to instil the capacity to give in teenagers and the all-important Gen Y’s.


Families raising teenagers have the most to gain from engaging the family in philanthropy. One of the main ways of immunising this demographic from an unhealthy peer group influence is to expose them to the global environment. Exposure to people who struggle to live day to day helps put teen angst in perspective as they explore a world beyond their friends.

Embracing giving can help a teen build their identity by providing an outlet for what they stand for and believe in. If families can find a shared cause it is also a great way to instil family values at a time when this link can seem tenuous at best.

Giving is something families need to model for teenagers. This is an age group that is far more receptive to being led by example than by lecturing. Parents can introduce giving to the conversation by explaining their own causes and interests and including their teen in decisions around giving. This could mean spreading the current family giving budget more broadly to fund a cause nominated by their teen. Family giving can evolve over time until the teen is actively sacrificing some of his or her own resources (time or money).

Technology offers a range of ways for teens to give and share their interest in causes via Facebook or Twitter. Technology has, of course, designed an App for that. One example is the Random Acts of Kindness app which allows users to choose a good deed to perform and then share it with their friends. A less selfish kind of selfie.

Generation Y

Gen Y, despite receiving much bad press, has the potential to become the most active and generous generation of givers in history. The coming decades will see an enormous amount of wealth transfer to this generation and the good news is that Gen Y are taking this responsibility seriously.

The NextGen1 donors report1 released in 2012 looked at over 300 young US philanthropists (under 40) and found they are approaching giving in an increasingly strategic manner. This includes making use of the internet to carry out extensive due diligence prior to giving. Interestingly, in spite of their extensive use of the internet for research, these emerging donors still list their greatest influencers as their parents (89%), followed closely by their grandparents (63%), with close friends and peers a long way behind.

The report showed this generation share their parent’s interest in causes supporting education and basic needs. Where Gen Y’s views differ from their parents are in their increasing interest in animal welfare, the environment, civil rights and advocacy. It is heartening to learn that these Gen Y’s say their commitment to giving is a legacy of their parents - a strong indicator that family values can be effectively passed down alongside a transfer of wealth.

Making It Last

With persistence all parents can instil a legacy of giving in their children. Families that establish charitable funds can provide a tax effective means of setting aside funds in perpetuity that their family can utilise across generations. These vehicles allow parents to take part in living giving while building their children’s capacity to give well.

The last word can go to Winston Churchill, father of five and a legacy maker in his own right.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

  1. NextGen Donors Report, Johnson Centre for Philanthropy Copyright 2013.

Genevieve Fraser is Director of Philanthropic Services at EWM Group and is an internationally accredited Partnership Broker. Her experience includes managing a multi-million dollar community investment portfolio and building award winning partnerships in the arts, environmental and indigenous sectors. At EWM Group she provides clients with philanthropic advice and governance tailored to their personal and financial needs.

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