A Season of Food, Family and Philanthropy


While living through the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, there have been a few silver linings. In a time of such enormous need, the pandemic inspired a wave of charitable giving, and I have witnessed the generosity of many people to support causes that are important to them. 

As Thanksgiving and Chanukah quickly approaches, I am looking forward to gathering with family and friends for the first time in two years, and I am so grateful to have the chance to do so. While the holidays are rich in traditions around food and family, I think it’s also an ideal opportunity to incorporate giving back into our rituals and make the holidays even more meaningful.

Over the past nearly two years, we have all had time to think about what is truly important, and the upcoming holidays are the perfect time to consider talking to your children and grandchildren about your own charitable giving. Tell them why you give. And tell them why you want them to be charitable as well. 

The holidays are also a good time to initiate a discussion with other family members. You might try asking the following questions to start the conversation:

  1. What are three things you are grateful for?
  2. What is one problem you wish you could solve?
  3. What motivates you to give?
  4. How have you given back this year with your time and/or money?

Be a role model and involve your family in the process. There are simple ways to empower your children to take ownership of their giving. For example, in one family I know, the money the sons contribute to the tzedakah box at Hebrew school comes jointly from the parents and the boys themselves. Take one of the nights of Hanukah and instead of giving your children a gift, have them choose a charity they want to give to this year. For example, they can use the money you would spend on them and give it to the Jewish Community Services’ Toy Drive. JCS will purchase gift cards so families can buy toys, books and crafts for their clients’ children.

You can also consider establishing a donor advised fund at The Associated. With a donor advised fund, you can recommend grants to charities, involving your family in philanthropic decision making.

Consider showing your children and grandchildren first-hand some of the needs that are important to you by participating in hands-on volunteer opportunities. Jewish Volunteer Connection, a program of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, can help identify the right placement for you and your family to get involved.

I know we are all busy with a myriad of commitments, yet I encourage you to make time to have philanthropic conversations and involve your family in the process. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

If you would like more ideas, contact Lauren Klein who specializes in helping families design strategies for engaging their children and grandchildren in charitable giving. She can be reached at 410-369-9278 or lklein@associated.org.

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