For some parents, talking about wealth ranks right up there with the birds and the bees as important but dreaded conversations to have with your kids. This creates a significant challenge for philanthropic families, because you can’t talk about giving without bringing up wealth, inheritance, and financial responsibility.
In my work with donor advised fund families at The Minneapolis Foundation, I hear from parents who are afraid to tell their children about their fund because they are unprepared for the questions that would follow about the family’s overall financial situation. So the purpose of the session “The Second Most Important Conversation to Have With Your Kids” at the 2011 Family Philanthropy Conference was to provide parents, grandparents, and staff working with philanthropic families tips and tools to get over their fears and talk effectively about wealth and giving.
Nathan Dungan of Share Save Spend works with families across the country, helping them link their money decisions to their values. He talked about the importance of creating your family’s money narrative. This is a collection of past events, people, stories, values, and actions that make up your money story. If you don’t intentionally write your narrative, your children will default to the societal narrative of “see money, spend money.”
Lisa Parker of Family Circle Advisors, president of Lawrence Welk Family Foundation, shared her personal story of learning about wealth and philanthropy in her family. Parker expressed that to grow and nurture givers you have to teach about legacy, empathy, and gratitude. Research shows that parental involvement in nonprofits increases the odds of a child becoming a donor by more than 80 percent.
Together, the speakers provided tips to introduce wealth and philanthropy to your children and grandchildren of all ages.*
What has worked for you? Share your successes and challenges by talking to your children or grandchildren about money and giving.
*Check out Dungan’s latest book, “Money Sanity Solutions,” for tools to use in your family discussions about money.
Robyn Schein is a client services officer at The Minneapolis Foundation