Never in my life have I been able to mystify my children. They saw through all my object lessons, magic tricks and efforts to get them to make healthy choices. We have no grandchildren. There are three grand dogs but no heirs. Our youngest is getting married this month and — while marriage is no longer a prerequisite — no grandchildren are in sight.
Kids these days are waiting longer and sometimes choosing a puppy first to see if they can jointly manage it and keep their relationship intact. For most of my generation there was no time to manage anything other than work, parenting, a mortgage and a finding a parking spot. The puppy had to fend for itself.
Many years ago, when my kids were much younger, I told them about one wealthy donor’s generous gift to the university. Mr. Generous (not his real name) gave a large sum of money to establish an award in perpetuity that would help a first year student afford to go to college. My kids were awed at the generosity and the amount. One asked, “Do you suppose he would give some of his money to us?”
Because my job was in fundraising, at our family dinners, sprinkled amid the peas and potatoes, there was a lot of conversation about wealth and giving, including how much to give, who to give to and when to do that. Yet, even after the dessert was served legacy giving never really came up.
In establishing the scholarship, Mr. Generous mentioned to his daughter that he had made a gift to a university to help students now and in the future be able to afford the cost of their education. He mentioned it was a one way to create a lasting legacy. His daughter said, “That’s great Dad, but how can I do that? I would like to help other like that, too, but I am a student myself without enough nickels to pay for my own tuition.”
Mr. Generous thought and then quipped, “How about if we team up? We can use your name for the name of the award and use my money to make it come alive. And when you are able, the award with your name on it will remind you that it is your turn to establish a new legacy.
How will we involve people around us, including our children, in legacy giving?