Have the Conversation About Leaving Your Legacy

As we, the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, celebrate our 100th anniversary we have thought a lot about legacy throughout the years. Especially the legacies that others have allowed us to leave as we move forward to the next 100 years.

Often, we think about legacy in a reflective manner. We think about the impact we have made thus far, and how that will continue after we pass. Instead, we should think about the kind of impact we want to make in the future. How will the decisions we make now, affect those here in our community long after we are gone?

We have talked about Family Wealth and making sure your children know what they are inheriting. Building upon this, we want to talk about having a deeper conversation about what you want to accomplish and how you want your family to be involved in the future.

When thinking about your legacy, we have four key actions you can take to get started to ensure your legacy is one you can be proud of, and that your family knows their role:

Discuss the values and intent of your giving.

What drives your giving? What impact are you hoping to make? What values do you align to the organizations you support?

While your values and intent are clear to you, it might not be as clear to your family. Having an open discussion about the things you are passionate about and why you give is important. This will help your family know what fuels your giving and how they can keep this going long after you’re gone.

Discuss special places, programs, and causes that are important to you.

It’s important your family knows what’s important to you and what you are most passionate about. Maybe your hometown or a place you lived for a few years when you were younger is very special to you. Discuss this with your family and make sure they know the places, people, and causes you care about most. Is there a program in the community you feel strongly about? Are there things you choose not to support or certain organizations you do not want to fund? Don’t assume your family knows everything about your giving.

Discuss how you see your family fitting into this.

What role do you see your family playing in your philanthropy? Are you imagining an active role for them or more of an advisor who is making sure everything is running smoothly? Do you want them to have any role at all? It’s important to be clear about your expectations and wants. Again, while this may seem clear, it’s good to share these thoughts with your family.

Discuss how your family sees themselves fitting into your legacy.

Not only is it important to discuss your expectations, but it’s equally important to listen to your family’s thoughts and expectations. What you and your family expect could be completely different. If that is the case you will want to have open discussions on a middle ground where you both feel great about the outcome. Or work with the Community Foundation to design a legacy in which all needs are met.

The National Center for Family Philanthropy has great tools (for free!) you can use when discussing legacy with your family. For more information on this topic and further resources, visit https://www.ncfp.org/knowledge/legacy-in-family-philanthropy-a-modern-framework/

As always, the Community Foundation is here to help as you explore what it means to leave your legacy. We are 21/64 certified advisors, here to help facilitate family conversations, values exercises, and legacy planning. If you would like to take the next steps and dive deeper into your philanthropy, reach out to Alison Gerardot at agerardot@cfgfw.org.