The College Donor Digest

Traditions of Philanthropy

December 15, 2023

December holidays are a trove of cherished traditions, from religious services and familiar melodies to family recipes enjoyed by the grandparents before us and the grandchildren to come after us. Fiddler on the Roof’s quintessential traditionalist, Tevye, begins the musical with a memorable line: “Because of our traditions, we've kept our balance for many, many years.” Traditions provide a sense of continuity and meaning that evolve and grow as new generations partake in them. 

Philanthropy can be a powerful family tradition, instilling values of empathy, compassion, and responsibility in the next generation. Young children learn the virtue of charitable giving by donating spare change and chore money or contributing toys, clothing, or canned goods to community drives. Parents can be open about the causes they choose to support and involve children in those decisions as they grow up. 

Kevin Youngblood, an Arizona-based entrepreneur and philanthropist, shared his experience of including his children in giving: “I started when they were young. Whenever they got money from a birthday or work, I encouraged them to give the first 10%.” This early exposure to generosity set a strong foundation for lifelong giving. Now that his children are adults, the whole family makes charitable decisions together. 

Every December, Kevin and his wife, Margie, hold a family meeting with their three children and their spouses to discuss the family’s charitable trust. “Now you all decide where this money goes and how much to give to each organization. Your mother and I are going off to have a board meeting. We may go see a movie or go get lunch.” Kevin and Margie then return to hear their family “pitch” which organizations to support, how much, and why. 

Mr. Youngblood compares the long-term impact of charitable giving to planting trees. “Every Christmas morning, I walk to my backyard and pick a grapefruit off a tree. I did not plant that tree; it was planted in 1989, when the house was built. Somebody else put an irrigation line to it and pruned it for years without benefitting, but they knew that somebody like me was going to be coming along 30 years later who could benefit.” 

If your family does not yet have holiday traditions of charitable giving together, you can start by identifying the causes you care about together and discussing the ways you can make a difference. Volunteering or giving financially as a family instills values that will last generations. And if you choose to give to higher education, FAR can help ensure that your gift has an enduring impact.

Read Kevin Youngblood’s interview with the Fund for Academic Renewal in 2022 here


Leave a Comment

  • The College Donor Digest

Share this Article

The Fund for Academic Renewal is a program of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization as defined by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions to FAR are fully tax-deductible to the maximum extent provided by law.