Family charitable trusts

Many people who choose to establish a family charitable trust do so for the specific goal of engaging their children and future generations in shared family philanthropy. Indeed families with the most success in engaging new philanthropists are those that prepare younger family members for philanthropy in general.

In order to successfully engage future generations it is important that they relate to the charity’s objectives and there is a lot to be said for discussing exactly what the vision for the charity will be with the next generation before setting it up. What matters to them; what causes do they believe in and for what are they grateful.

As I have written before a charity needs a clear vision if it is to maximise its impact, and this applies as much to family charitable trusts as it does to any other charity but the family must be allowed to influence and engage with the delivery of that vision if they are to become truly engaged.

Most would agree that the next generation should be involved in a family’s philanthropy but the next question of how they be integrated into the current generations philanthropy. Perhaps during the founders lifetime he or she should allow other members of the family to dictate how at least some of the money is spent each year.

Family engagement does not always need to take the form of being a trustee but can take the form of volunteering, fundraising to add to the charity or otherwise engaging with the work of the charity. Success will depend on their enjoying their engagement and finding the work of the charity accessible to them. Their relationship with the charity and the roles they play will change over time

You also need to be realistic about your family’s abilities and it may be wise to add other trustees who understand your reasons for setting up the charity and who have necessary skills which your family do not have amongst them.

Finally you should decide what should happen to the charity should none of your family be involved with it at some future time. Don’t let it just drift on without a purpose.