We all want our families to carry out our values and spirit of generosity, but how can you translate the desire for a strong family legacy into something truly attainable? At The Signatry, we are focused on equipping families to build lasting family values and generosity.
Over the years while working with families, we noticed a common theme. Families who are sure of their values tend to be more connected and to live more generously. When a family knows what it stands for and has its circle to stand with, that clarity and community usually leads to impactful, meaningful action.
That’s it—one of the simplest keys to generosity that will last and transform your family: Communicate your values.
If you want to begin developing your family values and growing your family’s generosity, you can start with a few steps:
1. Invest your time and behaviors in what you care about.
You must be the first one to exemplify the values you want your family to share. Whether you have young children or are an empty nester, how you act and where you put your time and energy speaks clearly about your values. Your financial giving can’t be disconnected from the way you live or the attitudes you hold. Children, even from a young age, will pick up on those behaviors.
Remember, your actions are a form of communication.
2. Connect the dots between actions and family values.
One common mistake we see families make is to assume their values are clear. While your actions or the charities you support might be evident, have you truly connected the dots to articulate exactly what the driving value is? Do you continue to repeat that theme?
True, lasting, transformational generosity starts when your family is clear on why they give.
We encourage families to identify 3-5 values and create short statements to describe these. Your family can’t practice what they haven’t been taught; family values statements give you a tool to solidify and reinforce what and why you support these causes.
3. Open up family leadership opportunities.
As you live with intentionality, repeating your core values and engaging with your family, look for ways to pass the baton.
Create opportunities for other family members to lead during each step of the giving process. Being able to take the practice from start to finish—identifying the value, choosing a cause and organization, and deciding how to engage in generosity—teaches each family member how to engage in a generous life as they grow. Even for young kids, early chances to learn to make decisions will help reinforce values and teach them exactly how to engage in the process.
Sharing these responsibilities will also look different in different seasons of life, so giving everyone the opportunity to participate will deepen connection even through the various seasons.
Family values lead to family legacy.
We always say that generosity is the great equalizer because, even with differing opinions in the family or in conversations about wealth, generosity becomes a place of equal participation. You all have a common goal to work toward together—to create meaningful, positive change in the world—and there are few things which can so easily unify a family.
We hope this is an encouraging way to think about the basics of your family generosity. No giving plan or list of charities will fully connect with your family until you all are clear on your purpose and values together. That’s where it gets good! Solidifying your family’s values opens up the door to clarity on what matters, to deep connections, and to exciting, transformational generosity. Better yet, those clearly articulated and embodied values provide a simple pathway for future generations to understand and follow themselves.
Let’s live generously for generations just as God intended.