For families who manage their own foundations, year-end requirements can add stress to a celebratory time of year. Here are three ways to make these final weeks more merry.
First, review year-end “to dos” for the foundation now. In this moment between finishing the Halloween candy and putting the turkey in the oven, be clear about your foundation’s grant distributions and other year-end requirements. For help making this “to do” list, contact your accountant, lawyer or philanthropic advisor. Share these steps with family board members so everyone is informed.
Second, think twice before holding an important foundation planning conversation around a major holiday. Sure, it might make sense to meet when family members are gathering anyway. But save the complicated strategic planning sessions for a time when heads and hearts can focus on the task. When families are in holiday mode, they want to enjoy social time. If you have philanthropic business to conduct, consider a shorter, focused meeting to accomplish year-end tasks.
Finally, find ways to encourage a sense of gratitude within your family. Here are some activities compiled by 21/64, a firm focusing on next-generation philanthropy:
- Cultivate a habit of gratitude. Ask family members to share three things they are grateful for during special gatherings as the meal begins. This exercise shifts the emphasis away from receiving presents and to witness how parents, aunts and uncles model their expressions of gratitude.
- Tell your family story. While your family is together for the holidays, take the opportunity to discover and record the stories of your elders.
- Ask: What is the greatest gift you’ve ever been given? You can inspire generosity by speaking about how much you’ve been given and what that did for you.
- Craft your giving plan for next year. Use some of the down time around the holidays to reflect on what’s most meaningful to you and whether you’re embracing that in your everyday life.
In the rush to make grants by year-end, it’s easy to focus on the mechanics of giving. Take time to reflect on the privilege and opportunity that philanthropy provides. Honor those you support who are making your community stronger, healthier and more vibrant. May the joy of philanthropy warm you through the new year!
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