4 Lessons on Creating Generous Families from Bill High
In September, we convened our nonprofit partners, board members, and friends for a breakfast with Bill High. He is a former lawyer who moved to a career in generosity, making it his mission to encourage families to live for a cause greater than themselves. Bill High co-founded The Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation, where he currently serves as CEO. He is a sought-after conference speaker and published author. His newest book, A Generous Life: 10 Steps to Living a Life Money Can’t Buy, came out earlier this year.
Bill High sees generosity as an essential practice of healthy multi-generational families. When families thrive, culture changes for the better. Here are 4 ways he says families can work together to incorporate generosity into their multi-generational planning.
#1 Take the Long View
In American culture, we tend to think of family as a temporary season of life. We think the goal is to raise our kids and get them out of the house. We need to take a longer view of things. The impact of our parenting will extend well beyond the first eighteen years of our child’s life. The Bible tells us our parenting will have consequences for generations. Our goal is to instill the value of generosity from their youngest age, believing God will cause it.
#2 Define Your Family’s Values
Many Americans are no longer living within close proximity to their extended family. As a result, emerging generations no longer have as strong a sense of family identity as their preceding ones.
You can help your family establish a strong sense of identity by defining your family’s values. Values are the moral and ethical principles of behavior transmitted from one generation to the next. Figure out what your family’s values are in 3-5 words and use those at guideposts. What are the 3-5 traits, habits, and characteristics you want your family to be known for?
Late to the game? You can transmit your family values to future generations by identifying the 10 stories from your life that your kids and grandkids need to hear. Use these values to craft a vision for what your family’s legacy will be in the future.
#3 Talk About Money
Engaging in generosity as a family is a key element in successfully establishing a family legacy because it makes you and your family members live for something bigger than yourselves. Generosity reflects the image and character of God and it is the best way to live out your family’s values. It is essential to establish your family’s beliefs about wealth and generosity. Sit down with your family members and ask these questions:
- What is the source of our wealth?
- What is our commitment as stewards?
- What is our view of wealth preservation?
- How should our wealth be used?
#4 Create Habits of Generosity
You can use a donor-advised fund as a way to start your own family foundation. You don’t have to be Bill Gates to have a family foundation. Instead, you can donate $5,000 in a donor-advised fund and use it as an opportunity to walk your children through the decision-making process when it comes to generosity.
Giving is a great conversation starter for families. Invite your children into the process of deciding where to distribute funds. It forces you to talk about your goals and share your values with your family. Some families let each child recommend ministries for funding in order to give them more ownership in the process.
It is important to establish regular patterns of giving in which children have some form involvement or input. It will force them to ask questions and think intentionally about how best to invest the resources God has entrusted to them.
The Generosity Trust specializes in donor-advised funds that allow you to have your own charitable fund to support Christian ministries and other worthy causes. Visit our website to learn more about donor-advised funds.
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