Bridging the gaps in multi-generational family philanthropy

Differing views within families are nothing new. For generations, common topics of disagreement have included popular culture, politics, religion and parenting, just to name a few. Frequently outranking all is money, and how it’s made, spent or saved—or not. 

How benevolent families share money is a topic all its own. It may even be more relevant now given the current reality: up to four generations living simultaneously; longer lifespans; more willingness to discuss family finances; differing social views; and the desire of older generations to set a good example while retaining some control of assets built over many years. 

And the “share” discussion will likely continue for decades. 

According to figures cited in a May 2023 New York Times article (subscription required), 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. With more wealth circulating, both ideas and conflicts about its use will likely result. 

As an advisor, you work diligently to help your clients achieve their goals for their estate plans, financial plans, and charitable objectives. As you work with your multi-generational philanthropic clients, you have no doubt noticed that even philanthropy can lead to lively discussions and disagreements. To fulfill your responsibilities, you may need to lean on strategies to navigate conversations about charitable priorities when not everyone is on the same page. 

You can also lean on Lincoln Community Foundation–and we encourage you to do so! We can provide a unique perspective in the midst of the unprecedented wealth transfer now underway and serve as an arbiter, guide and even peacemaker among benevolent multi-generation families. In addition to understanding the needs of the community and the nonprofits and programs that are addressing those needs, our team is deeply experienced in facilitating productive dialogue among people who bring valuable, diverse viewpoints to the table.

As a secure, convenient, and trusted partner to help a family invest wealth in charitable causes, LCF can help you work with your philanthropic clients in a variety of ways:

–Our team focuses on listening to understand the cross-generational family values. 

–We ask a lot of questions about what matters most to your clients and the origins of those preferences, both historically and now. 

–We pair our team members with each family so that we can foster more intimate, empathetic, and meaningful discussions. 

–We seek to understand a family’s values, and we will then research and suggest potential grantee organizations or causes if the family desires such input. We can also deeply research organizations the family is already supporting. 

–LCF can provide general education about the tactical opportunities for charitable giving, including donor advised funds, designated funds, and anonymous giving, among others. 

–Our team is happy to develop options for multi-cause allocations that meet the needs of the entire family.

We are here for you and the philanthropic families you serve. As the needs, capabilities, and opinions around wealth expand, Lincoln Community Foundation can facilitate conversations, connections, and contributions among well-intended but independently-minded families and help you accomplish your professional responsibilities.