Growing up, our family always had extended family living with us: cousins in college, uncles, and other transitioning families. Through it all, I never thought we were poor. Every Sunday, even if we had to check coat pockets for change, we made sure to have money for our church envelope. Every month, I watched my mom pay bills, always leaving a small amount for St. Jude's Hospital, even if it meant we paid less elsewhere. My mom taught my siblings and me an important lesson: by sharing you realize just how much you have.

When my parents passed in the early 1980’s, they left my siblings and me the family home. We reflected on the lesson of sharing, and wanted to start a family foundation to give back. To that end, I had an opportunity to be part of a conference on philanthropy and to attend a workshop on foundations. In conversation with a woman next to me, she said I should not consider starting a foundation unless we had at least a million dollars. I think I would have been okay with that piece of advice except for her disdainful tone.  My siblings and I are successful thanks to the opportunities provided by education and the support of those who came before us. However, we made the choice to give proactively throughout our lives. We wanted to continue to support our community with many directed gifts rather than a single lump sum.  From immigrant to $1M in discretionary funds in one generation was not our pathway.

Read the full article about giving as a family by Rosie Abriam at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.