While the Christmas season brings shopping, decorating and entertaining, Christmas is all about renewing our faith by sharing traditions and making memories. This year, make philanthropy part of your family’s tradition and memories with a simple conversation with your family and friends. The term “philanthropy” is a Greek word meaning humanitarian goodwill, or a concern for the welfare of others — what better topic for the holiday season? Below are five reasons you should talk about philanthropy with your family this Christmas.

You get to focus on the good

With divisive politics, global tragedies and ugly headlines all around, give yourself and your family an opportunity to connect over the good works being done by charities, both local and abroad. According to the Almanac of American Philanthropy, Americans privately donate more than $350 billion each year. In addition, the Catholic Church and other Catholic-affiliated organizations are among the biggest non-governmental providers of social services in the U.S.

Philanthropy is not a political issue, but rather a spiritual one. Avoid those bitter political dinner table discussions and focus instead on the important and innovative ways that the Church and its members are addressing the human need for physical, emotional and spiritual health.

You’ll get to know your family better

Ask everyone around the table the following question: If you had $100 to give to charity, who would you give it to and why? You’ll learn who is passionate about which issues and, through that discussion, maybe you’ll even come up with some new ideas about how to address those concerns. It’s a fun and informative way to see how kids’ interests change over the years and to realize how long you’ve been supporting some of your favorite causes.

You can inform and inspire one another

As an annual topic of discussion, family members can be motivated by one another’s experiences over the previous year — such as learning about the impact of everyone’s favorite charities, or finding a new interest to propel your goodwill in the new year. You can also set a family giving goal for 2018 or make plans to volunteer as a group. Volunteering informs everyone at the ground level, and recent studies show that older donors are now volunteering in record numbers.

You can discuss giving versus getting

St. Francis of Assisi said, “For it is in giving that we receive.” As Catholics, it is our greatest responsibility and joy to love and serve one another. Encourage your family to avoid talking about what they want and start talking about how they can provide for others. With young children, it’s often difficult to discuss giving to charity in a meaningful way, so put giving back into context for them with the concept of “good deeds” for others. With older kids, ask about opportunities to give back through their school or parish.

You make the Church and its ministries possible

Catholic schools educate low-income students in a safe and supportive environment. Catholic social services provide thousands of meals to the homeless, the poor and the elderly every single day. Catholic services assist immigrants and refugees settling in a new community. Catholic priests and parishes create community and fellowship while nurturing spiritual development.

These and thousands of other examples in the Los Angeles area alone are a testament, not just to the good works of the Church, but also to the immense generosity of those individuals and families who support this work with their financial gifts. The Church serves the whole community, making each of your family and friends a potential recipient of Catholic outreach and services. No gift is too small — everyone can experience the joy of giving and, in doing so, reap rich spiritual rewards.


Timithie Norman is director of development for the Catholic Community Foundation of Los Angeles (CCF-LA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides professional philanthropy management for individuals, families and organizations with the goal to teach, develop and sustain philanthropy to support the work of the Catholic Church.

The CCF-LA offers donor-advised funds, other charitable giving options and tools for families interested in creating or sustaining a legacy of giving for multiple generations. For more information or to contact the foundation, call 213-246-1187 or go to catholiccf-la.org.