Updated for 2020
Gift giving to family members living far away can be a challenge. You may find yourself unsure of their needs, wants, sizes, etc. And, in this pandemic year, you may want to avoid shopping altogether. My family had faced the gift challenge for many years and felt that our time and money was being wasted on unwanted gifts. So, we created a new family gift-giving tradition that would better help us to express the real meaning of the holidays.
Five years ago, Tom and I proposed the following idea to our three adult children and gained unanimous approval: we would skip the shopping, wrapping and sending of gifts and would instead make a donation in their name to a charity of their choice. One catch– this would have to be a family decision that included input from our grandchildren as well. Our hope was that this would spur thoughtful discussion about others’ needs and provide real-life experience for the grandchildren to learn our family values firsthand. They might also learn efficient ways of being charitable.
Five years later, we have honed this tradition, one that we all look forward to each holiday season. Each November, I send personal notes to our children reminding them that I’ll be asking for their family decision for the coming holiday season. Thanksgiving has proven to be a good holiday to get the conversation started, and by the beginning of December, each of my children shares the name and address of their chosen charity.
With a few keyboard clicks to my online donor-advised fund, the gift requests are done! This donor-advised fund was established years ago as a tax-efficient tool in our own financial planning. It is an easy way to make donations throughout the year to multiple charities as the need or desire arises.
The benefits of this family tradition have far surpassed our family’s expectations.
Hearing the stories that each child shares about how they came to their decision as to which charity to support is heartwarming and has opened the door to great discussions about the importance of sharing our gifts with others.
The grandchildren have learned at a young age the importance of giving and had the fun of researching charities that matched their interests and passions.
And, in addition to doing good for their specific charities, there are also positive environmental consequences as we have eliminated the need to travel to stores, buy boxes, bags and gift wrap to ship gifts that will not be nearly as memorable as our charitable gifts.
Over the past five years, over ten charities have received gifts from our family and it has been such fun hearing our children and grandchildren enthusiastically discuss the choices they made and why they choose them.
For more information about charitable gift accounts and how they may fit into your family’s financial goals, please contact us.