Unleashing Generosity Through the Power of Stories, Part 1

Unleashing Generosity Through the Power of Stories, Part 1

Help your clients regain control of their family narratives and unlock generosity for the future by capturing the stories behind their philanthropy
Article posted in Values-Based on 28 March 2017| comments
audience: National Publication | last updated: 24 April 2017


New author Mike Stuart reveals the power of stories, especially as it relates to the impulse to be generous.

by Mike Stuart, President of FamilyArc, mike.stuart@familyarc.com

Stories are one of the oldest tools in the book for passing on wisdom and values, and there’s a reason for that: They work. Whether or not we realize it, we relate to the world and the people around us through stories. They’re how we find connections over a business lunch, how we comfort our kids as they go to sleep, how we entertain ourselves on a Friday night. We’re constantly thinking and learning through stories because stories have a sort of “stickiness” about them—they stay with us long after facts and figures fade.

When it comes to philanthropy and generosity, families that give away their resources are already leaving a legacy, but the question remains: Where are their stories?

A study conducted by Emory University showed that children whose families tell them stories about the past are able to develop a stronger sense of self and are more resilient to life’s hardships. New York Times columnist Bruce Feiler put it this way, “The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.”

Next-gen heirs are constantly hearing messages about what they should value, and all too often, the narrative about their family’s generosity gets lost in the noise. What are they hearing about why their parents and grandparents give to certain organizations? What about the individual people impacted by those gifts?

When families are intentional about capturing and communicating their values through the power of stories, they can regain control of their family narrative and unleash generosity for generations to come.   

Benefits for Families

When I was ten, my mom was diagnosed with a rare birth defect—a blood clot in her brain that could rupture at any time, meaning that literally any day could be her last. She defied all odds, however, and lived for six years after that diagnosis.

My mom had always been a generous person, but after her initial brain bleed, she gave her time and resources away like never before. She made friends with strangers at the grocery store, cared for a neighborhood boy who came from a broken family, and shared her faith with people in tough spots. My mom’s life shaped me like few other things have and taught me the true meaning of faithfulness and generosity.

Rather than simply lecturing my kids on those values, telling them stories about my mom’s life is one of the most powerful things I can do. It makes things personal and helps them see tangible examples of what it could look like to be benevolent in their own lives.

Whether sharing about an act of kindness or the impact of a financial gift, stories about generosity benefit families and advisors alike by:

1. Building connection around shared values: As younger generations understand what was important to their parents and grandparents, they’ll find common values and gain a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves.

2. Inspiring ongoing generosity: That broader sense of identity can produce a desire to carry on a legacy of generosity and help next-gen heirs know how to give their resources.

3. Creating engagement with next-gen heirs: Helping families capture their stories can also give advisors opportunities to develop strong relationships with younger family members they may not have known otherwise.

To see a demo and learn how FamilyArc can help your firm, fill out the interest form at familyarc.com/partners. Receive a free ebook with tips to guide your clients in having value conversations with their families when you include PGDC in the field that asks how you heard about us. If you have any questions, reach out to me directly at mike.stuart@familyarc.com.

Coming Soon: Common Obstacles and A Plan and a Platform

Receive a free ebook with tips to guide your clients in having value conversations with their families when you fill out the interest form at familyarc.com/partners. Include PGDC in the field that asks how you heard about FamilyArc.

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