Modelling Generosity Across Generations
Generosity doesn’t just start all of a sudden when we decide we have accumulated “enough”; it is shaped by experiences throughout our lifetime and deeply influenced by the people around us.
Growing Up Amidst Generosity
My family didn’t talk about charitable giving while I was growing up, but their actions spoke volumes about the joy of being generous. My grandparents were always sharing a meal, welcoming impromptu guests into their home, and quietly donating money. Likewise, Mom and Dad volunteered extensively with our local church and, much to my disappointment, often downsized vacations or rearranged plans for a renovation or the purchase of some new technology, so they could keep up with their charitable giving. It was hard for me to understand those decisions when I was a kid, but my perspective changed when I had a family of my own.
Modelling Generosity as a Parent
My wife Sandy and I have always shared a deep commitment to live generously, and we did our best to pass on those values to our kids. We often talked as a family about generosity and why it was important, encouraging our children to have input in some of our gifting decisions.
When Sandy and I made decisions reflecting the Biblical concept of giving our first fruits, I gained a new appreciation for the way my parents had modelled generosity and lived out their core values. As we sent our grown kids out into the world, we hoped we got at least some things right.
However, Sandy and I knew our duty to model generosity wasn’t over just because the kids were grown.
A Structured Approach to Giving Together
We created a Generosity Plan™ to help our entire family practice generosity together. Sandy and I seeded a Gifting Fund™ with Abundance Canada and contribute annually, while our kids donate as much as they want throughout the year. This collaborative gifting option was a much simpler solution to setting up a private foundation because everything is managed by Abundance Canada, and we have the fun of recommending support for our preferred charities as well as how much is distributed to each and when.
Each winter, our family comes together to discuss and recommend donations to a variety of registered Canadian charities. We all look forward to these opportunities to connect, pray, and talk about the causes that are important to us.
Over the past three years, both my children have enjoyed researching charities and recommending support for their favourite organizations. These are usually not the same charities Sandy and I would have chosen, but it makes us so happy to see our kids being generous in a way that is all their own. Even more exciting is to see them passing on those values to their children.
Modelling Generosity for Future Generations
Right now, my grandkids are all under three, so modelling generosity mostly consists of encouraging them to share and choose kind words and actions. However, before long we will start including them in our Generosity Plan and, when they are old enough, invite them to start making contributions to the Gifting Fund. I can’t wait to see what charities will mean the most to them as they grow up with a generosity mindset.
Looking back at how modelling generosity has shaped and continues to shape me and my family, it is clear that this is not a one-time deal. We’re in it for generations.
Gift planning consultant Brad Friesen and his wife Sandy know that modelling generosity is not a one-time deal. They’re in it for generations.
Contributed by Brad Friesen
Gift Planning Consultant