Family Philanthropy: Determining the Right Way for Your Family to Give Back 2/3

One of the greatest parts of family philanthropy is finding a common bond that can bring generations together. Identifying shared values among family members is an important step in establishing your core shared values, and the relationship of those values to your charitable giving.

A great way to figure out these shared values is to take the time to answer the following questions – whether on your own or as a group.

  • What are some of the values that you feel are important to you? When/how did you come to acquire these values?
  • Identify two or three people (family, friends, historic figures, etc.) who have been a strong influence in your life. What values did they transmit to you?
  • List values that you feel your parents passed down to you. What do you feel are the values common to your family?

The next step is to start talking about the impact you would like your philanthropy to make in the community. Some questions that can help with that discussion are:

  • What strengths do you see in your community that you think should receive further support?
  • What are the challenges in your community that you think require attention?
  • What impact do you hope that your family can make through charitable giving and/or volunteering?

Your focus will depend on what you want to achieve from your giving. Do you want a broad approach to impact as many people as possible or give to a specific area of need/cause that you feel most strongly about?

Here are some examples of these different approaches:

  • Broad Focus: basic necessities, education, arts & culture, building capacity, environment, community services, etc.
  • Specific Focus: poverty, mental health, disadvantaged youth, museums, wilderness preservation, supporting students, family violence, etc.
  • Very Detailed Focus: immigrant settlement programs, upkeep historic areas in Halifax, support the Celtic heritage in Cape Breton, scholarships for local students, etc.

This focus can change over time to become more or less specific. As your family changes, so may your views on giving. For now, it’s important to get grounded on your area(s) of focus.

One option may be to have each family member identify projects they would like to be considered and “present” them to the family. The most important thing to keep in mind during this process is to respect each other’s ideas and have some fun with the presentation and decision making process.

The Community Foundation of Nova Scotia can also help identify projects or causes that match your family’s area of interest. We can also help you start your own fund to support any new ideas or projects you have that may not currently exist.

Once you have figured out your family’s focus, the next step is exploring the level of recognition you would like to receive. We’ll take a look at that, along with some other considerations in determining your family plan in our final post.

In the meantime, you can always reach out to us to arrange to have someone from our team join you to help facilitate the conversation with your family.

About the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia

The Community Foundation of Nova Scotia is an action centre for philanthropy. We provide the knowledge and support for communities, charities, and citizens to realize their individual potential and collective possibilities. Our mission is to build strong, vibrant and diverse communities throughout Nova Scotia by enabling and inspiring effective philanthropy. Community Foundations have a 100 year history in Canada, over $6 billion in assets under management, and knowledge about both the tax advantages of giving and how to build giving into your family and business’ long-term plans.  Our model offers expertise and economies of scale that ensure a greater investment in community. The Community Foundation of Nova Scotia can help you create the impact you want through a customized mix of giving today, tomorrow, and into the future.

For more information, visit us at

This is the second of a three part blog series from the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia

Community Foundation of Nova Scotia

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