Family Giving: Getting Off on the Right Feet

Family Giving: Getting Off on the Right Feet


Lisa Galaites, Business Partner, The Giving Practice
Anjana Pandey, Member and Donor Relations Director

The start of a new year tends to be a time of reflection and resolutions for our families. From personal experiences, we know that we're fortunate to have access to clean water, sanitation and fresh food; our professional roles with the nonprofit and philanthropy sectors reminds us daily of the progress we've made and the significant work still needed to support less fortunate communities.

But how do we teach our children — the next generation of philanthropists — the importance of responsibility, generosity and empathy?

Lucky for us, many of our Philanthropy Northwest members and partners are also thinking deeply about "next-gen" giving, from personal initiatives like The Giving Pledge to public education programs in our communities.

Ella and Anushka at the Gates Foundation Visitor Center.

Recently, we visited the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center for a "Take Action Day," in partnership with Seattle Foundation, to explore these issues with our daughters: Ella Galaites, age 9, and Anushka Tiwari, age 5. This workshop focused on how to set giving priorities and how to create a mission and vision for your family, offering lots of resources on how to find nonprofit organizations to support that are in line with your focus areas. There were about two dozen participants in the room, with children ranging in from ages 5 to 18.

As our girls navigated the Visitor Center, they interacted with hands-on exhibits that help relay the Gates Foundation’s work around the world. Anushka recognized the steel pails of water and the mosquito nets from her visits to India, but hadn't really understood what they meant before. With the help of the interactive displays, we were able to explain to her why the nets were so important.

The workshop activities focused on three areas:

  1. Building Empathy. Walking in some else’s shoes is enlightening! The interactive tools were engaging for kids and adults alike. Even Ella could barely lift the buckets of water that some women and children have to carry three miles back to their villages.
  2. Pledging Resources: Ella and Anushka constructed a moon jar that has three compartments to separate her money: savings, spending and giving. The workshop offered us exercises that  helped us decide a common focus we wanted to commit our personal resources. We left equipped with resources to carry out our homework to find organizations that we can support through donations and volunteer hours.
  3. Taking Action: We completed postcards stating our commitments, which will be mailed to us in the next few weeks to help keep us on track. Both Ella and Anushka chose food as their area of focus and made pledges to donate to anti-hunger organizations in the coming year.

For older families, the Gates Foundation Visitor Center will hold its 3rd Annual Teen Action Fair on March 19, showcasing young leaders inspiring positive change in our communities. The free event will include hands-on activities, youth speakers, interactive exhibits and volunteer opportunities, with 36 featured organizations from Washington state.

Although it took a little convincing to get our girls to spend a sunny Saturday morning at an educational workshop, Ella was quick to comment on our way home “that was WAY more fun than I expected!” We all left a little more inspired and ready to change the world in our own little way. 

Lisa Galaites is business partner for The Giving Practice, Philanthropy Northwest's consulting team. She can be reached at
Anjana Pandey is member and donor relations manager for Philanthropy Northwest. She can be reached at