In fundraising, the metaphor that is often used to describe the way that family members set direction for their small foundations is the deep conversations around the kitchen table. It’s important to remember that every one of us could approach our philanthropy in the same style. Just because many of us lack the resources to set up a formal foundation does not bar us from taking that same strategic approach. In our families, typically, there are one or two obvious causes that get the greatest share of resources—a congregation, a hospital (made as a “grateful patient”), an alumni association—but the other gifts are made more haphazardly, made in response to direct mail/email solicitations or for other reasons.
As fundraisers, we have witnessed the satisfaction of families who take a planned approach and are the ones who ought to advocate for it in our communities. Talk to your neighbors, friends, and family members. Suggest a “kitchen table” conversation about personal values and aspirations for society, both for the family as a whole and for its individual members. What do they represent as a family? What are their priorities for a better world? Urge them to be proactive in finding causes to support, to stick with a cause over time, and to increase giving as their resources allow. Help them to find their “inner family foundation” and everyone benefits!