Family Philanthropy: It’s All About the Values

An Interview with Chuck Recorr

Why do you give back?
There is a real gap in America today. I live in a society where important things aren’t being addressed, and because of that, the fabric of the community is disintegrating. I can put an alarm system in my house and live in a gated community or I can invest in my community and get a return on that investment. I choose to be invested. Problems are solved when people realize the gap between what exists and what needs to happen.

Do you engage your family in your philanthropy?
We have a family philanthropic plan that includes values, goals, and how we support nonprofits – that’s all included. I think that the most important legacy you can give is your children. They will transfer it if you have given it thoughtfully.

Tell us more about the importance of core values and how it relates to families.
We have almost an infinite number of opportunities to be philanthropic and only a finite ability. You can’t do everything, so how do you decide what to do and what not to do? How do you know what really moves the needle? So you have to ask -what are your core values? It took awhile to figure it all out. It turns out that core values are different than values. Most values are situational by nature. We can move them around a bit, but getting to the core values is complex. To really be a core value, it is irrefutable. We don’t teach that, we don’t talk about it a lot. We don’t ask that question of ourselves.

Never give your children your valuables until you’ve given them your values. You have to lay out your values for your kids. We’re so busy living our lives that we don’t implicate our children into the core values. Create learning opportunities – parents don’t do that. Use value cards as a resource separately, and then find the commonality. Don’t just say “these are the values, suck it up.” Find the common ground and engage the family, so they buy into it and carry it forward. If you begin to have a generational buy in, you don’t have the disintegration of the family values and family wealth.