Involving the next generation in philanthropy: an interview with Emma Turner, Director of Philanthropy.
It can happen almost overnight: someone who has spent years building a business receives an unexpected offer to sell that turns them into multi-millionaires; or perhaps a couple comes into an inheritance that is far larger than they imagined.
Whatever the event, a transformational improvement in net worth can often provoke complex questions, including what this wealth might mean for a person’s family.
Enter philanthropy, which is a more strategic form of giving to charity. It’s something that many people who go through a sudden upswing in wealth rarely contemplate at first but one that can provide answers for those looking to make sense of their wealth during their own lifetime and beyond.
"It can take a while to figure out how to get used to living with increased wealth," explains Emma Turner, Director of Philanthropy Services at Barclays. "It doesn't necessarily sit as comfortably as you would expect it to."
Initially, the conversation is started by the banker or wealth advisor. "It often comes up early in the conversation as they explore the purpose of a client's wealth and what they need their money for and what they want to achieve," explains Turner.
Developing a social conscience
Philanthropy has long provided a way for high net-worth individuals to give back – though only few financial institutions offer advice about it to their clients. "It's very simple," says Turner. "They feel incredibly lucky to have more money than they need and want to use it to make a positive contribution to society."
But she also says that philanthropy can be a tool for high net-worth individuals to educate their children about the value of money as they think about how best to pass on their wealth to the next generation - a common concern among parents whose children have never had to struggle.
"Typically, most of my clients grew up with much less and made this money themselves whereas their children have never had to worry about things like the shopping bill," Turner explains. "The reason that philanthropy is such a fantastic option is that it teaches your children how to develop a social conscience and shows them how to understand the value of money - what X can achieve by supporting Y."
Uniting families through the generations
As for getting younger family members motivated in philanthropy and the causes their parents consider important, she says that it is never too early to start. But she also cautions that it is important to allow children to bring what they consider important to the table as well.
"If you want your children to get involved, you need to leave it open enough for them to bring their passions to the giving table," she explains. "The idea that you can engage them in philanthropy early on is one thing and then it becomes part of the legacy conversation later so the children grow up understanding what is important to their parents.” These may be different to their own causes but they are often able to support both in the future.
Done right, she says, philanthropy and the discussions that it engenders can become a powerful element that unites families through the generations. "To find time for families to get together is a wonderful glue. I can't think of a family that doesn't want to have that bond."
So how much are donors expected to give? Turner insists that there is no magic number. "People should start small and grow into it," she says. "There are all sorts of opportunities to deepen an involvement over time."
Barclays Philanthropy service aims to engage, educate and support clients and their families in their giving journey.
How do you encourage your family to engage with philanthropy?
We asked Walker J Leon Group Managing Director Paddy Walker for his suggestions.
Ever since Tania Slowe's Jewish Russian great grandparents moved to London in the late 19th century, giving back to society has been a central tenet at J. Leon.
The fourth-generation, north London family office, now run by Tania and her husband Paddy Walker, has built on the family's extensive philanthropy activities, which they run alongside the family business's investment portfolio.
Walker, J. Leon's joint managing director, says that getting the next generation involved in giving - and in thinking about giving - is a core part of the process. "We feel it's the right thing to do," he explains. "It's about passing on values, ethos, culture."
In addition to the group’s structured philanthropy activities, J. Leon gives each family member who reaches 18 a "meaningful" pot of money that they can direct as they wish to a charity. They don't have to consult their elders and the only criteria is that they have either visited the charity or know about it. At regular family forums, the younger generation then have to stand up and talk about the charities they have backed.
Walker says that allowing the younger generation flexibility within a set methodology motivates them in their causes while also creating enough space within the family's overall philanthropy efforts to allow for new ideas. As a result of the younger generation's influence and passions, J. Leon's philanthropy arm has even added an environmental silo to their giving, of which six environment-focused charities are now beneficiaries.
"It's all about engagement," Walker says of getting the family's next generation involved. "And that is the opposite of entitlement."
See the Philanthropy services we can offer through Barclays Private Bank.