Through the many years that I’ve been listening to grandparents share their hopes and dreams, their regrets and fears, the word “legacy” is one that comes up over and over.
It’s a word that carries much weight and many meanings. Most of us, of course, are concerned about our legacy in its most tangible manifestation: a financial bequest or endowment. Regardless of our financial bracket, we hope to maximize whatever we may be able to pass down to our heirs.
To be clear, the Living Legacy Foundation is not a legal entity making charitable grants. And, while the grandkids might learn useful skills of philanthropy, such as budgeting, building a case for funding, writing follow up reports, the main purpose was to encourage long lasting relationships among them and to have them know what was going on in each others lives.
The Living Legacy Foundation was essentially grandpa funding projects submitted by our grandchildren to the Board of Directors for approval. The Board is made up only of the grandchildren…all siblings and cousins can participate once they have reached their 13th birthday.
Once the board has voted neither parents nor grandparents can veto it (which is why it’s good to talk to parents first, have grandparents set budget constraints etc. in advance.)
So, here’s how it works:
- Your grandchild identifies an activity (a travel experience, a course or enrichment program) or a purchase (equipment, materials, etc.) that relates to her education, her career, one of her major interests, passions or goals – or an avenue she is very curious to explore further. (I’ll stick with the female pronoun, here, for expediency.)
- She then submits a short, simple “requests for funding” to the Board – i.e., her siblings and cousins. Her request should provide a brief overview of the proposed project/activity/purchase (“P/A/P”), including what interests her most about it, and what the associated costs are; what percentage she is asking the Foundation to underwrite, and how she plans to cover the remainder (if applicable). The request may be made in the form of an informal email, or by filling out a short form such as the one use by our family: LIVING LEGACY FOUNDATION Request for Funding.
- The proposals are reviewed and voted on via email or by phone, unless the timing coincides with a holiday or family celebration, and they can get together in person. In that case, the Board convenes behind closed doors until they reach a unanimous decision to fund the proposal, to fund it partially, or not to at all. (And boy, do I love hearing the muffled sounds of laughter and lively debate wafting through the house! This says to me that creative ideas are being shared, relationships are being cemented, and responsible approaches to finances are being inculcated – an infinitely more valuable Teaching-and-Learning experience than Grandpa simply handing over a check!)
- As in any granting process, there is follow-up. Each Living Legacy Fund recipient is expected to report back on their experiences, be it through a travel journal or photos, or whichever way they can create a learning experience for the rest of the family.
Sound like something you would like to start but you have questions? Please feel free to email me at jwitkovsky(at)att.net or contact me via my website. I’d be happy to help get you started.