Stories | May 14, 2021

How (and why) you should give together as a family

Pencil and paper, calculator, and graph

Families who give together tend to be closer. Here’s how you can develop a practice of generosity with your loved ones. 

If you are looking to connect more with your family, give together. Doing so can impart lessons in empathy, sharing, and understanding. Plus, research shows incorporating charitable giving into your routines (and, eventually, your traditions) can build stronger family connections.

Giving as a family forges bonds with both immediate and extended family members. In Fidelity Charitable’s 2018 U.S.-based survey, 81% of respondents who grew up with giving as a family tradition described their core family (parents and their children) as very close; and 33% of these respondents described their extended family as very close. 

A donor-advised fund (DAF) like Charitable Impact is a giving vehicle uniquely suited to your family’s giving. That’s because you can set out with generosity as the initial goal, and then thoughtfully and collectively decide which charities to give to. An Impact Account provides the option of adding money and receiving an immediate tax receipt, while providing the time and space to choose causes to support. 

Once you set the intention to give, your actions can follow suit. A DAF also provides the convenience of having a bank of family funds for giving when you are asked by friends or other family members, an avenue for easily scheduling giving to charities, and even a way to send charitable dollars to others. 

The benefits of giving together

Talking about giving can be an outlet for sharing interests, concerns about the world, and dreams about the future. Giving together can provide a starting point for those more in-depth conversations, where common ground may be forged. 

Generosity’s influence can extend beyond what you can achieve today because you are providing a model to future generations. Research shows children can be inspired by their parents’ charitable actions and are likely to give if it was part of their upbringing. 

A 2017 Angus Reid survey, done in partnership with Charitable Impact, showed conversations during childhood at home may impact giving behaviour. Two-thirds (64%) of those categorized as “super donors” (who donate many causes with significant amounts of money) say they were exposed to concepts of charity and altruism by their parents. Among non-donors, two-thirds (64%) say they were not.

For the young and old, giving can create a sense of personal responsibility and impart lessons in financial literacy. Giving can also contribute to feelings of joy and is linked to better overall wellbeing. Out of those who grew up with giving traditions, 48% consider themselves very happy today, compared with 33% who did not grow up with strong giving traditions. 

Donors give as a family on Charitable Impact

Colin Cox’s family uses Charitable Impact to manage all of their charitable giving—including setting up regular gifts to charities and sending money for his children to give. These are unique features that can only be accessed by giving through a DAF like an Impact Account. 

In Cox’s view, giving together is not only a way to teach charity but also to instill guiding principles. “What I love about Charitable Impact is it’s a way to make giving regular,” said Cox. “We value giving back. I think about abundance mentality versus scarcity mentality. With an abundance mentality, I don’t think about acquiring things, but it’s about giving and being abundant with what you have.”

Cox emphasizes that, no matter how much you are able to give, it’s important to impart those messages of contributing and doing good. He uses charitable giving as one piece of a puzzle in building more financial literacy. His children receive money to spend, invest, and give. “Every dollar matters, especially when you can personalize it and give to a cause you care about. Charitable Impact just makes it easy. The user experience is really simple,” added Cox.  

Every dollar matters, especially when you can personalize it and give to a cause you care about.

Charitable Impact’s own founder and CEO John Bromley implements a very similar model for teaching his kids about giving—by sending them charitable dollars each month so they can manage their giving through their individual Impact Accounts. Doing so can be accessible to older children who have the capacity to research charities, although there may be some need to support children in thinking about their giving. 

To involve your kids, ask them about things that matter to them—whether it’s the sports they play, their passion for the arts, or their interest in issues affecting people they care about. Kids can then act on their own charitable interests and give to causes they feel personally aligned with, which is empowering. Plus, they can develop the skills for managing their own giving and crafting unique visions of a brighter future. 

Donors are building a family legacy—together

Giving as a family tradition can also take a more formalized approach. Brent Martin’s family giving focuses on priority areas, which he manages through a Giving Group on Charitable Impact named in honour of his family. 

The Martin family are thinking of the big picture and even hoping to impact seven generations from now. In this way, their giving is similar to that of a foundation: focused on dispersing to a wide range of charities in order to achieve long- and short-term goals. 

“We want to do our part in making this a peaceful, healthy, and happy world,” said Martin. 

We want to do our part in making this a peaceful, healthy, and happy world.

The family’s giving focuses on expanding access to outdoor education, experiences, and recreation. “We do this through charities that lead in the areas of nature connection, protection of our oceans and forests, and charities that make new experiences possible for youth in these environments through mountain biking and other sports,” said Martin. 

With Charitable Impact, Martin also sends charitable dollars to family members so they can decide where to give. The family gets together to set out their giving goals and identify where they can make a bigger impact.

“Our plans are now to have regular family meetings to share where we have donated individually, any stories about these charities and where they might be crossovers where we could make larger donations on behalf of the family,” Martin added. 

Give like a foundation

When you set out to give as a family, you can start small and let it grow from there. 

Families can easily establish ways to organize their family’s giving with a DAF with Charitable Impact. Doing so could help build a family legacy, without the administrative burdens and high cost of registering a foundation. 

With Charitable Impact, your family can create a focused, targeted, and organized way of giving together (similar to how prominent philanthropists give). Unlike foundations, you don’t need to start with a minimum amount of assets to make the start-up and maintenance costs worthwhile. 

The added bonus is being able to access tools through a DAF that you can’t access through other means of giving—including a foundation.

With an Impact Account, you can easily add money and receive immediate tax receipts, track your giving over time, and send money directly to your loved ones to inspire and drive their own giving. You can also start Giving Groups to share your giving goals with others and involve more friends and family. 

Get inspired to take action with these quick-to-start suggestions

If you understand the benefits to giving as a family but have yet to implement ways to incorporate it into your own life, here are some thoughts. You can do one or a combination of these to chart your family’s own giving path. And of course, keep in mind you can always reach out to us with questions about your giving.

Start a charitable allowance

Young children can receive coins in a jar as charitable allowance that can then be symbolically donated to a cause through your Impact Account. You can also start Impact Accounts on behalf of your children, send money to them from your own Impact Account, then let them choose charities to give to on their own. 

Volunteer together as a family

Doing a beach clean up or spending a day in a soup kitchen can introduce kids to new experiences and ways of pitching in. Individuals who volunteer are more likely to give charitably so you are also setting the stage for a more giving way of life. 

Write a family mission statement

Discuss what values are important to you as a family, what goals you hope to achieve, and then set out a plan to build that brighter future. Check in on your progress on a regular basis and give to charities that are in line with your goals and aspirations. 

Gamify your giving

Start a family games night where the winner gets to choose the charity you will support. Or bring back the tradition of the swear jar and contribute the money and coins to charity. Another idea is to create a charity bartering system: If a family member does a favour on your behalf (say, take out the trash when it’s your turn), you can send them charitable dollars or contribute to their charity of choice. 

Talk about giving with your loved ones—now and in the future

Having family discussions about causes you care about can be an opportunity to tackle a larger topic: leaving your mark on the world by supporting the causes you care about. By expressing your intentions on where or how you would like to leave the biggest impact, you are building connections with those you love. Having these conversations, as difficult as they may seem at first, can also help ensure your wishes are carried forward.

At Charitable Impact, we’re here to help you achieve your giving, your way, with our support. Reach out with questions about your giving by email ([email protected]), phone (1-877-531-0580), or chat ( Our Philanthropic Advisory services provide clients with custom solutions to achieving their charitable ambitions.

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