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Philanthropy and Your Family

December 12, 2008

When we think of philanthropic families, the obvious names come to mind – Rockefeller, MacArthur, Gates, Tata.  Developing a philanthropic family mission, however, does not require millions of dollars.  Archana mentioned in one of her recent posts that she and her family get together at Christmas every year and decide on their philanthropic priorities.  Many South Asians are in a particularly opportune position to  do such a thing because of close family connections.  Over the next few months, I will explore the ways in which we can talk to our parents, children, partners, siblings, cousins and other family members about philanthropy.  In large part, SAPP is about raising awareness — and we can’t do that without your help!

We’ll begin with talking to our parents.  If your parents are anything like mine, then they are very generous in many ways, but often don’t see the utility in giving to not-for-profits.  They have been forced to pay for a gala ticket here and there and maybe to make the occasional donation, but they still believe they are not wealthy enough to be the people who actually donate.  And in fact, my parents are not wealthy, but they are fairly well-off.  And, I hope they will come to understand that they too have both the responsibility and the potential to support the causes they believe in (even in this economy).

It is difficult to speak about philanthropy with anybody, especially your own parents, without first addressing the current economic environment and its impact on one’s personal financial situation.   There are many ways to have this conversation; the New York Times suggests one way here.

Resource Generation

Resource Generation

If you’ve already spoken about this, or once you’ve opened up this  dialogue, there may be room to talk about giving. Resource Generation, a national organization that works with young people with wealth to effect progressive social change, has some useful resources to discuss family philanthropy with parents and others.  Resource Generation is just one organization.  We will be profiling many others over the next few months, so please stay tuned.

Does your family have a philanthropic agenda? How did you start the conversation? Can you recommend any resources that might help in the conversation with your parents? We want to know!

(Thanks to Sendhil Revuluri for his help with this topic!)

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