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Bridging the gaps in multi-generational family philanthropy

Differing views within families is nothing new, with topics of disagreement historically including popular culture, politics, religion and parenting, to name a few. Frequently outranking all is money – and how it’s made, invested, spent or saved.

Realities of longer lifespans – resulting in up to four generations living simultaneously – and greater willingness to discuss family finances paired with greater differences in social views all add new dimensions of complexity to this already weighty topic. Add to this the frequent desire of older generations to both set a good philanthropic example while also retaining some control of assets built over a lifetime.

For a sense of the scope of change underway, consider these figures cited in a recent New York Times article:

  • Total U.S. family wealth of $38 trillion in 1989 more than tripled to $140 trillion in 2022, with Baby Boomers and Generation X holding 90% of that.
  • By 2045, older Americans will pass down a projected $84 trillion to Millennial and Gen X heirs, with $16 trillion transferring by 2033.

Helping individuals achieve their estate, financial, and charitable goals within the context of their families is critical. When working with your multi-generational family, you may find that even a subject as uplifting as philanthropy can lead to lively discussions and disagreements. Our philanthropic services team can help you navigate these conversations. In addition to understanding the needs of the community, the local nonprofits addressing those needs, and the general tax vehicles best suited for your family, our team is experienced in facilitating productive dialogue among people with diverse viewpoints.

The latest study from the National Center on Family Philanthropy reinforced many of the best practices we already deploy in our work with fundholders. Although the study focuses on private family foundations, the emphasis on finding the balance between collaborative and individual grantmaking is one which we at the Foundation encounter as well. Donor-advised funds paired with a private foundation often allow us to help donors find that balance. We can provide assistance on practical solutions to engage your family in comprehensive philanthropic planning, leading to positive outcomes for the communities and causes you care about most.

To learn more, contact Judy Altenberg, director of donor funds and legacy giving.




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