Linda and Mark Silberman are blessed to have all four of their children living in Atlanta and all six of their grandkids too. Three of their adult kids are married, and the grandchildren range in age from 3 to 13. This tight-knit clan is deeply engaged in volunteerism and Jewish and community causes, and Mark and Linda Silberman felt it was time to get everyone on board to make consensus decisions about the family’s philanthropy.
“It wasn’t easy,” Linda says. “Making a consensus gift means we all have to agree 100%. We vote on it. The kids know through Mark’s leadership of The Jewish Future Pledge that we have made a commitment to give 50% of our family’s philanthropic assets to Jewish causes and 50% to non-Jewish causes. We wanted to be proactive about getting the kids to understand why that was important to us and to have a say in the allocation of funds.”
“To do this, our family meets four times a year,” Mark explains. “Our middle daughter manages a spreadsheet of our giving and presents it to everyone. All of the kids have done research on charitable organizations in the Atlanta Jewish community, as well as non-Jewish nonprofits. They’ve prioritized donations around homelessness, mental health, and Black business entrepreneurship. They’ve made site visits that resulted in gifts to JF&CS, Honeymoon Israel, and Federation.”
The Silbermans have found that working with a philanthropic consultant makes the family decision process manageable and productive. ‘’The last time we met was in February. When our meeting was over, the grandkids came upstairs, and right in the kitchen, we packed 50 welcome bags for Nicholas House, a homeless family shelter we support. Our oldest daughter is the family volunteer coordinator. She helps us organize family service projects.”
For the Silbermans, family philanthropy is a work in progress, but it is based on a high-level commitment to the future. Mark says, “The secret sauce of the Jewish Future Pledge is that no matter what amount of assets you pass on, your kids are the beneficiaries! We have a high percentage of people signing the pledge, but some people don’t tell their kids about it. You have to tell your kids why you’ve taken the pledge and what it will mean for them and the community.
You may think your family knows what you believe and hold dear, but they won’t really understand until you articulate these beliefs yourself. The Jewish Future Pledge has a terrific guide explaining how to gather your family and begin a family philanthropy conversation with purpose and meaning. Find it here.