The Voices of Givers
Donors and the descendants of donors tell how philanthropic values can be passed from one generation to the next.
We asked: What family member set the example for you to give and what are you doing to inspire other people in your family-or other potential donors-to give?
Sarah Wolfensohn, Botwinick-Wolfensohn Foundation, New York City
I was influenced by my grandfather on my mother's side and my parents. My grandfather started the foundation decades ago, and my dad got all of the kids involved ages ago. At first we became involved by looking over grant proposals that were prepared for us. He's been really generous in terms of letting us all become involved in areas we're passionate about. The proposals would already be in areas that were of interest to the family and to us. It was confusing at the beginning with so many good projects, and it continues to be extremely difficult to choose.
[What do you think is the best way to get younger generations involved in philanthropy?] I really think the best way is just the way my father did. He's been generous philanthropically as well as in not forcing us to fall in love with his passions. He's instilled in us the idea of giving back. He believes so much in just giving back and trying to make a difference. I would hope to be able to pass that on to my kids in the hands-off way that he did.
Thomas C. Woods, III ("Chip"), Woods Charitable Fund, Inc., Lincoln, Nebraska
I think because we're not a huge family and we kind of knew what each other was doing, we grew up [learning about philanthropy] by example. I remember my uncle and my father going to Council on Foundations meetings and thinking that would be fun. Our foundation started the Lincoln Community Foundation. I think my Uncle Frank was even one of the founders of the Council. [He was president in 1964.] My parents had me volunteering in local organizations as early as seventh grade. I remember stuffing envelopes when we were in Cleveland.
I have three children who are all in grad school or out. One wants to work in the art museum field. The other one's going to school to get a degree in nonprofit management. He would like to work with foundations. My youngest child is in business. He's probably not really active [in philanthropy] at age 23, but he's grown up seeing my wife and I being active in arts and in family and human development-type things. They see it, and I really believe that by example, you just do it when you grow up. I did it, my parents did, my great-grandparents, we all did.
John Braitmayer, The Braitmayer Foundation, Middletown, Connecticut
My mother was always very generous, particularly to the community. I was just brought up from an early age to share some of the benefits we were fortunate enough to have with other people. It's never dawned on me not to devote a certain portion of our income to charitable events. We have a great deal of fun doing things through the foundation. It's something we've enjoyed and the children are coming along. Having a family foundation is a great way to keep the family together. We have a meeting twice each year to get the seven of us together. It gives us a central focus as a family. It's a wonderful way to educate future generations on giving creatively and wisely.
Bill Graustein, William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund, New Haven, Connecticut
The memorial doesn't fit into the convenient categories. My father started it. I suggested my mother leave her estate to it, and so its present form represents an effort of the three of us. The fund itself was a different entity each time one of us was working with it.
The work of the memorial fund and exploring how we might affect the world outside is tremendously illuminating on what has gone on inside the family. A sense of connection has developed between what we want to change in the outside world and the experience of the family. It addresses both things at the same time with what feels like a real integrity to the process.
My older daughter is a senior in college. Her freshman year she volunteered for a social program and ended up being co-director of that. That's not at all associated with the memorial fund - but I found it remarkable that our careers turned in similar directions. I've tried to keep the door open to the kids. My daughter, she said a couple of years ago, "I'm Lisa, not Lisa Graustein." She, as any student in college, is working very hard to establish a sense of identity independent of her family and I try to respect that process.
Carol Franc Buck, Carol Franc Buck Foundation, Incline Village, Nevada
It has been a family deal - my family has been involved in philanthropy. When the bonus came when we sold our company, I thought a foundation would be a good way to use the money. I just thought it would be perhaps a more organized and efficient way of doing things. To be honest, it also gives you a front so you can screen and select what you give your money to. It also gives you more of a focus. My son felt that way, too. He had an interest in the foundation from the beginning. He is very active in organizations.
[How do you think the values of philanthropy were instilled in your son?] I think it's just the way your life is involved. You go to dinners and you realize you're paying $75 for the dinner itself and the other $250 goes toward the organization. I was brought up that you got a 50 cent allowance and you gave a nickel to the church. I think in our family, it's something we all do and we all enjoy.
Tod C. Woodard ("Casey"), Woodard Family Foundation, Eugene, Oregon
My father has instilled in me a real sense of the local community. He has made it very clear to me that as families and businesses get older, they tend to sell and leave town. But we have a real sense of wanting to carry on a legacy in our community.
[How are younger generations part of the foundation?] Our foundation by-laws state that at the age of 25, the children of foundation members may enter the board and be full-voting members. As of right now, we have two fourth-generation family members. They're both very interested in the philosophy of family unity, family tradition and legacy.
Joe Jacobs, Jacobs Family Foundation, San Diego, California
[How did you work to instill the values of philanthropy in your daughters?] By example only. There was this poignant moment when our grown-up daughters suddenly realized we had acquired a lot more wealth than they realized. They said, "Gee, Dad, you're rich." We reacted rather negatively, because in our society we have learned to apologize for wealth. We told them, "We're going to give you a minimum amount of money and you're going to have to make your own living," and they said, "Good, can we help you [with your giving]?" I've been giving gifts to [the foundation] regularly ever since. Our foundation has a 35-year stipulated life, which is the life expectancy of our three daughters. Hopefully we'll be out of business by the time they're ready to kick the bucket.
Charles Allyn, Jr., Allyn Foundation, Dayton, Ohio
My father started this thing. He was always very interested in charitable things. At one time he was president of the United Way. After I got out of college, I worked for a company where you were expected to do charitable things. My brother was at one time a minister so he was always interested in those things. But we didn't get started until we were out of college.
[How did you bring your children on board?] They are permitted to make charitable grants if they come up with a reason for them. That's why they're interested. They have some good ideas, and we always go along with them. The problem is, the next generation, they all have jobs, except one who is a homemaker. They don't have time to do these things