Involving Adult Children—Sam Ginn, Ginn Family Foundation

When we first funded our family foundation, my wife and I consulted with our three adult children. I wanted them to grow in life with a sense of philanthropy and giving back. I thought a good way to do that was, in addition to having a seat on the Board, to give them a certain amount of money they could disburse through the foundation. And we’ve been doing that for 15 years now.

I found that my children's ideas of what we ought to give to are not necessarily my own and that has been a wonderful thing. We generally have three meetings a year: the first round in the spring for everybody to determine what they want to support, another review in the fall, and then at the end of the year we clean everything up to make sure we complied with all regulations. I heard that involving family like this often causes contention, but I would say for us it has worked extremely well.

We are very flexible; for example, if the kids need to give a bit of their portion to someone else’s project that year, they do it. Simply put: we just try do the right thing and sometimes that means getting out of each other’s way.


  • Engaging your family in giving can strengthen relationships, instill values, and develop a meaningful legacy. F
  • There are many ways to engage family members in philanthropy— ranging from informing them and getting advice to involving them in decision-making.
  • To facilitate a productive discussion of philanthropy with your family, we encourage you to reflect on your reasons for involving them and the roles that you would like them to play

See the full guide here.