Teaching Kids and Young Adults about the Power of Giving; Part 2

Teaching Kids and Young Adults about the Power of Giving

You can have this discussion any time of year. Second in a series


Key Takeaways

  • Philanthropy can help smooth family friction is there is a common cause they all support.

  • Empower the next generation by letting them make charitable decisions on their own. It’s a very effective way of helping kids and young adults mature.

  • Even families that don’t get along well can find ways to get everyone involved in the giving process.

In Part 1, we discussed the importance of introducing children to giving and re-introducing young adults in your life to philanthropy as well. Giving not only supports worthy causes, but empowers young people to make financial decisions and helps sustain family values.

But, not all families are in sync about many things (big surprise), including the causes they support. Does that mean they shouldn’t give? Of course not.

Even if there is significant disharmony in an extended family, most will rally behind a cause with only a few outliers not participating. In those situations, it’s important to find something that is a passion for the ones who are out of the center--or who at least feel like they’re out of the center. If we can find an alternative cause while maintaining the family’s primary values and goals, it brings the family together and helps many deserving people in the process.

That’s because the children who always felt like they were on the outside, suddenly feel like they’re on the inside, and it’s helping everybody. What families should NOT do is say: “We’re just going to take a vote and the majority rules.”

When that happens, the person on the outside, or the little kids [who] are on the outside, will feel even more disenfranchised. But if somehow we can focus on something that they’re really interested in, you can bring harmony back into the family.

Three things are really important when a family rallies around philanthropy:

1.      Philanthropy, in and of itself, can help the family communicate and heal some of the old stuff that they haven’t been able to heal before.

2.      It’s okay if a family has a main philanthropic mission that not everybody agrees with.

3.      If you allow the next generation the freedom to select things that they’re interested in on their own, you’re empowering them. By letting them know that you believe in their ability to make a good decision. It’s a very effective way of helping young adults mature.

Sometimes as you get more into the “for what purpose” questions—why is it that you’re really into this?—you’ll find that they have some of the same basic targets even though they’re doing it different ways.

I was at a professional conference recently and one of the speakers was a young woman whose great-grandfather owned the patent for barbed wire? Her family had a large foundation, and each generation received a certain amount of money to give away. As you can imagine, the kids were giving a lot of money to a very liberal think tank organization and grandma was giving a lot of money to a very conservative think tank organization. That was causing friction because grandma was just negating them. But, as they started talking about their conflicting goals, both generations came to understand more about the other generation’s goals and values and why they supported the organizations they did.

Long story short, the liberal and conservative sides of the family still have their differences, but now the family foundation sponsors a debate between the two think tank organizations they support. Sometimes if you get deeper into what is behind the passion, there may be some synergy that we didn’t realize existed.

A lot of times we don’t take the time to really understand the other person’s reason, and when we understand the reason, we find it’s a similar reason that we have except the way the other person is approaching the problem is different from our approach.


Whether a young person in your family feels like they’re in the mainstream, or an outlier, the more you can empower them to make their own giving decisions, the more likely they are to instill those values into their own children and the generation that follows.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.


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