© Skip O’Donnell

Engaging in philanthropy with your family can be one of the most meaningful and transformational aspects of family life. When connected to issues and values that are collectively important to you and your family, giving becomes more than a gesture or a transaction—it enables children, parents and grandparents to join together and work toward addressing or alleviating serious problems in your local community and the global one, as well. In this way, giving becomes a family affair that is passed from one generation to the next.

Many families find it helpful to create vision and mission statements specifically to guide their philanthropy. This is particularly important for families with a family foundation or donor-advised fund, as these vehicles can be passed down through generations.

Vision and mission statements are closely related, and each should be crafted with the other in mind. A vision statement defines your family’s primary philanthropic purpose and objectives, while a mission statement describes how you intend to accomplish that purpose. In addition to clarifying and focusing your giving, discussing your collective vision and mission is a way to involve all family members from the very beginning and ensure that all family members are in agreement on your giving strategy going forward.

One way to get the family together to draft a philanthropic mission and a vision statement is to hold a family retreat.

One way to get the family together to draft a philanthropic mission and a vision statement is to hold a family retreat. Families may choose to hire a facilitator to lead the discussion. However you choose to approach the process, the most important thing is to create an atmosphere of mutual trust in which family members can share their feelings openly. Also, allowing younger-generation family members to play a leading role in the decision-making may foster the identification and grooming of future leaders.


Encourage young children to share toys and actively participate in giving activities.

PARTICIPATE TOGETHER—Many nonprofits offer opportunities for families to spend time together performing volunteer work that makes a tangible difference.

LET CHILDREN LEAD—Integrating your children’s interests into your family’s philanthropic efforts is an effective way to keep them engaged. Allow enough flexibility to adapt to changing priorities as their interests evolve.

STAY FOCUSED—Focus on what brings your family closer together and what inspires you as a group. Creating and reviewing the mission and vision statements helps ensure unity.

Philanthropic priorities often change over time, so it is helpful to divide your philanthropic funds into three categories: organizations near and dear to you, community/obligatory gifts and impulse gifts. Having these areas more structured will help you track your family’s impacts over time and allow for assignment of individual roles and responsibilities.

Though there are many benefits from making philanthropy a family tradition, getting started can seem daunting. As you embark on your philanthropic journey, a family wealth advisor can further assist you and your family in determining the giving strategy that is right for you.

Marie A. Moore is a Financial Advisor with the Wealth Management division of Morgan Stanley in Dallas, Texas. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC.www.sipc.org. Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor(s) engage Worth to feature this profile. Marie A. Moore may only transact business in states where she is registered or excluded or exempted from registration,www.morganstanleyfa.com/themooregroup. Transacting business, follow-up and individualized responses involving either effecting or attempting to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, will not be made to persons in states where Marie A. Moore is not registered or excluded or exempt from registration. The strategies and/ or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, its affiliates and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors or Private Wealth Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Clients should consult their tax advisor for matters involving taxation and tax planning and their attorney for matters involving trust and estate planning and other legal matters. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the US. CRC 1455288 06/16

This article was originally published in the August/September 2016 issue of Worth.