Family Philanthropy: A New Way of Looking at Legacy

Having hosted a handful of family philanthropy events and benefitting from strong relationships with our Fundholders, we have been witness to many different stories and desires of parents wanting to pass down not just monetary inheritance, but values to their children. Each family is unique in its structure and its desires and goals for what can be passed down to future generations.

“I think it’s important to think outside of ourselves first and foremost. Why are we doing philanthropy? The way we craft our giving, wherever it’s directed, should be about the people we’re trying to impact and how we’re trying to make change. Then your legacy comes naturally. We are better for thinking first about that and then about how we get that done. People talk about the vehicles you use. I think first think about what you’re trying to accomplish and then everything falls backward from there…how do you do that work?” – Sapphira Goradia, Executive Director, Vijay and Marie Goradia Foundation, from Legacy in Philanthropy: A Modern Framework

This is a newer way of looking at legacy. It’s a way of looking at the future not to set it aside as a time that will happen later, but as something that can be actively shaped in the present. Legacy doesn’t have to be something that you do for your children but can be something that you create WITH your children. It’s also not just for large institutional givers but is meaningful for families with all levels of time, talent, and treasure.

How can you practically begin a practice of incorporating legacy now? Through a modern framework of high-level ideas, you can ask questions of not just yourself, but of your family, and take action step-by-step. These ideas include:

Values – What are three core values that drive your giving and why?
Intent – What is your motivator to give and what’s a gift you’ve made that embodies this intention?
Place – What place or places do you feel most connected to in your giving, and why?
Family – Do you give together or separately and why? What does the ‘family’ in family philanthropy mean to you?
Action – What does your family’s current legacy in action look like and how can you strengthen this?

So often we think of legacy planning as something that we will do once, for the future, without involving our family in the discussions – when legacy can be something that we do now, with those we love most – while enhancing our life in the present.

For a deeper dive on this framework and more questions to get started, you can access the full toolkit at the National Center of Family Philanthropy’s Knowledge Center. If you would like to experience legacy planning with your family, our staff is here to help. We can facilitate family legacy planning conversations around your charitable giving, help to align values, and assist in discussions about how you can take action on your legacy today. Contact Kiley at