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

Now that we’ve explored the inspiration, purpose and focus behind your family’s philanthropic goals, it’s time to look at the level of recognition your family prefers with respect to your giving. You may have differing opinions and those can change depending on the specific causes you are choosing to support.

Some families prefer to remain anonymous in order to have the focus be on the cause rather than themselves; avoid being solicited for more giving; and avoid standing our as different from their peers. Others may wish to be more open about their giving to demonstrate leadership; to celebrate the family name in the community; or to challenge or inspire others, set an example, and lead the way.

At the end of the day, it’s all personal preference and you may change how you think about this over time. For now, you and your family should consider the kind of profile you want to have with each of the charities that you support. Some other areas you may want to consider while formulating our plan are as follows:

Communication: Effective communications is a key factor in achieving your family’s philanthropic goals. Some questions to consider include:

  • What is the format for meetings about your giving and granting decisions? i.e. how often you should meet, where and will it be informal or more structured.
  • How will you keep record of family discussions and decisions?
  • How will you share your philanthropic activities with younger members of your family?

Decision Making: Clarifying the decision-making process and leadership roles in advance helps ensure your giving is enjoyable and effective. Considerations include:

  • Will the chair of the group change or rotate over time?
  • Who should be involved in the voting and are all votes equal?
  • Does anyone have veto power?
  • How voting decisions are made – majority, consensus or another approach?

Volunteering: Philanthropy is not just about financial giving and volunteering as a family can be a very rewarding experience, especially for children. Here are some things to consider:

  • How much time can your family commit each month/year to volunteering?
  • What are some ways you would like to volunteer? (i.e. out in the community, fundraising, supporting events)
  • What local charities is your family interested in supporting through volunteer work?
  • Are there other families/ friends that you think would like to volunteer with you?

We hope this series of posts have providing you with useful information to help build your family’s philanthropy plan and gave you an opportunity to collectively learn, grow and have an impact.

Bringing your plan to life is the next and most exciting step for your family and The Community Foundation of Nova Scotia can certainly help. Whether you have decided to establish a private fund, give to a number of charities or support your community – we have a variety of options to facilitate your giving.

When you are ready, give us a call to discuss how we can help you achieve your family’s giving goals. You can also arrange to have someone from our team join you to help facilitate the conversation with your family. This can be especially useful when you are not sure where to start or may have differing opinions among family members.

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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