The “Glue” That Keeps a Family Together

In recent Family Legacy Planning posts, we referred to Mitzi Perdue, a member of both the Sheraton Hotels and Perdue Farms families, author of How to Make Your Family Business Last. Perdue offers a list of reasons her family has stayed connected, but she emphatically states that the #1 reason they’re together is endowed family vacations, and the #2 reason is family philanthropy. We addressed her bold assertion about the benefits of family travel in an email a few weeks ago on August 4. Today’s focus is on philanthropy.

Perdue emphasizes the connectivity benefits of a family coming together to volunteer and/or donate. Not everyone can be part of working together in a family business, but everyone in a family can be part of philanthropy.

Family philanthropy not only helps others. The by-product is that the one doing the giving also benefits. In my own work on causes meaningful to me, I’ve often said that I get back more than I give. Indeed, philanthropy is a laboratory for family legacy planning, as it checks so many boxes for fostering a legacy and preparing heirs.

  • It’s a training ground for group decision making. Research shows that the greatest reason for family failure is lack of communication and trust in group decision making. Coming together to select causes to support trains heirs to collaborate.
  • Selecting a cause that’s meaningful to the family can help a family highlight an important part of its story. For example, supporting causes in an ancestor’s country of origin or funding research into a family medical issue can preserve a family’s heritage. The Perdue family charter focuses on helping communities where there is a Perdue poultry plant, giving back to those who helped build their business.
  • Setting aside funds in a family foundation allows heirs to learn about investing and how to manage money.

It’s never too early to start. Even the Rockefeller kids who received a 25-cent allowance were schooled to set aside 5 cents for charity, 5 cents to save, and spend no more than 15 cents.

The Blum Firm has an active practice creating private foundations, designing charitable trusts (such as Charitable Remainder Trusts and Charitable Lead Trusts), and helping families navigate the tax and legal rules in charitable planning. We would be honored to help your family create the philanthropic structure that’s right for you.

Marvin E. Blum

Marvin Blum’s daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Ira Savetsky, teaching philanthropy at an early age to their daughters. “My Face“ raises funds and awareness for surgery for children born with cranial facial differences. Ira is a plastic surgeon volunteering to operate on the young patients, while the family participates in events teaching kindness and acceptance for all.