Why I’m Going to Transforming Family Philanthropy 2016

by Monica
[Editor’s note: Register today for the 2016 Transforming Family Philanthropy Retreat: March 31 -April 3rd in Chester, CT.]

I joined Resource Generation in 2015, the year I became more involved with my family’s foundation. I have to admit, I joined halfheartedly because it seemed like the responsible thing to do. As my family’s foundation began to evolve, my role shifted from voting member over a fraction allotted to the “Grandchildren’s Fund,” into active, voting board member of our multigenerational family foundation. With my opinion and values being granted a new sort of legitimacy, I began to understand just how much power I had to effect real change for many organizations working to better the world.

As my dealings with my family’s resources grew, so did my influence — and yet, my financial knowledge remained the same: woefully ignorant. My first direct experience with Resource Generation was through the Transforming Family Philanthropy Retreat in 2015; a sizeable gathering of many young people like me, across the U.S. who are interested in learning to be responsible and active members of their families’ foundations. Until then I didn’t fully understand the purpose of RG or the resources that it can truly offer to people in my position – of wealth and power and little knowledge of how best to use it. Internally I dragged my feet about increasing my financial literacy and foundation knowledge not just because I was embarrassed of how little I knew but also because I felt unsure of what I could really take away or how any of it might apply to me directly. I went to TFP knowing only that I wished that I wanted to be more involved and informed but I felt stuck and in the dark – ashamed of how little I knew of my own finances – let alone my family’s – and too embarrassed to ask!

At the start of the retreat, I kept my mouth shut, nodding when people discussed things using financial terms feeling as though I should already know all this stuff as a person with wealth. When I finally got to my pod (my smaller check-in group), I heard someone express frustration, and confusion over not knowing how much money their foundation grants out! I breathed a sigh of relief – it’s not just me! I began to feel more comfortable asking questions. I sat with my cousin and we made a list of the things that together we didn’t know; a list of questions to bring back to our family foundation. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted as we began to grasp the full breadth of what we didn’t know and how to organize it in a coherent way. This made it easier to fully utilize the resources, counseling, and advising available to us at the retreat. In particular, I brought home a family tree I had worked on during a workshop that detailed the different relationships (caretaker, golden child etc.) within our family. This I gave to our foundation’s new Executive Director who was eager to learn the inner workings of our family dynamics.

I was also particularly fascinated with the concept of socially responsible investing and this made me question how our foundation’s dollars were being put to work. With knowledge of what we had yet to know in mind, my cousin and I tag-teamed the workshops and consulting cafes (one-on-one sessions with financial advisors and experts) taking avid notes on subjects, issues and concerns we could bring back to the foundation and discuss as a family group.

DSC01797My experience with RG has been the single most informative and relieving experience around money I’ve ever had. The Transforming Family Philanthropy Retreat was a place where I felt I could truly be myself and ask the questions I’ve felt too ashamed to bring up in any other context. Knowing that I don’t have to have all the answers while keeping stock of what I don’t know and what I’d like to find out has been incredibly incentivizing.

The RG retreats offer me the support system and experience to stand my ground and ask for the information that I need, while continuing to play a supportive role to my family members involved in the foundation. I’m looking forward to the Family Dynamics and Impact Investing workshops this year but if I had to choose my favorite part, it would be the pods. Those moments of sensitive and open conversations surrounding wealth are ones you cannot experience elsewhere.

The most useful tool RG has given me is the ability to lean in, vulnerably and enthusiastically, because I know this will reduce stasis and allow for greater strides to be made in my family’s giving and my own.
Registration is now open for this year’s Transforming Family Philanthropy Retreat: March 31 – April 3rd.