Creating a family culture of giving: Tips from Vanguard Charitable donors


Several Vanguard Charitable clients have established accounts for their children and given them the autonomy to fund their own philanthropic plans. One donor gave each of her two sons (in their early 20s) a $25,000 account to grant as they see fit. The family also comes together each year and picks one charity to receive a large grant from the mother’s account. They are working together as well as granting on their own.

A sister and brother merged two private foundations into a Vanguard Charitable account. They then passed the account to their daughters. The cousins are the account advisors, but the rest of the family can recommend grants through them.


Another family has a Vanguard Charitable account and all eight children are listed as interested parties, which gives them the ability to log on and request grants directly. They can each grant $10,000 from the account annually.

One family has a private foundation dedicated to a certain cause and six donor-advised fund accounts. While the family has to agree on how they will grant out from the private foundation, the donor-advised fund accounts give each family member the flexibility to do their own thing. This speaks to the value that many Vanguard Charitable clients find in having both a private foundation and a donor-advised fund—they can complement each other.

A father and mother make available a certain amount of their account to their children to grant. Each child has to research whatever charity they want to grant to before presenting to the rest of family. Everyone has to be in agreement on the charities they will fund.

A husband and wife have had a donor-advised fund account for several years and have supported several causes. Their two adult children are also giving-oriented but lack their parents’ resources and do not benefit from their giving from a tax perspective to the extent the parents do. Last year the parents told each child to pick one or two organizations that they believe in to receive a grant. As the father reported, “This has evolved into a wonderful opportunity for all of us to discuss philanthropy and the organizations and issues that we all believe in. It is particularly heartwarming to see the unanimity surrounding several of the organizations we have discussed.”

One Vanguard Charitable donor expects his children to get involved with the charities they want to support. If they volunteer, he will grant to those charities.

One grandfather gives his grandchildren the gift of giving every Christmas—money for them to grant.

A father wanted to get his two children involved in philanthropy. The daughter was on an athletic team at her college and saw how painful it was for a team member to have to drop out of school because she didn’t have enough money to pay for it. The daughter decided to set up a scholarship for such students through the donor-advised fund.

After reading a blog post on intergenerational giving from Vanguard Charitable’s Giving Matters blog, a grandfather offered his grandchildren the opportunity to each make a grant from his account. He was surprised when the grandchildren, ages 15 and 10, asked for more time to research and decide on the charitable cause they wanted to support. He was happy they were taking it so seriously. When the grandchildren each reached a decision, the grandfather made sure they were recognized by the charities. He also saved them a copy of the grant letters sent by Vanguard Charitable so that they could see and understand the entire process.


A grandmother wanted to open donor-advised fund accounts for each of her five grandchildren, but wanted to do so in secret, as a Christmas present. She came across an obstacle, however: Account advisors (the owner of an account) must complete and sign paperwork in order to take control of a donor-advised account, a process that would ruin her surprise. Representatives at Vanguard Charitable figured out a solution, and the grandmother helped put it into action. She covertly acquired the necessary information from each of her grandchildren—contact information, social security number, etc. Then she seeded each account with an initial contribution. On Christmas morning she presented each grandchild with completed paperwork, missing only the signatures—once they signed, their accounts were open and ready for use.