The Salwens believe that life is more than accumulating; ultimately it’s about giving. Their decision in 2008 to sell their Atlanta “dream house,” move to a home half its size, and give away half of the sales price, was a statement of that belief. According to Kevin, this experience and the family’s philanthropy in general, has been a great tool for the family’s connectedness – and his children’s growth.
“Once we decided to sell our house, all the decisions concerning where we would use the funds and how we could make the most difference, were made as a family; one person, one vote. Our kids knew that their voices would be heard,” he says. “In coming together for something greater than ourselves, we found a collective sense of mission and purpose. We set out to make a difference and ended up transforming our lives."
The Salwen Family set up a donor-advised fund at The Community Foundation and have been setting aside money specifically for giving. Through this fund they have made multiple gifts as a family to several organizations including The Hunger Project, Habitat for Humanity-Atlanta, Cool Girls and the Atlanta Girls' School.
As members of our Center for Family Philanthropy, Kevin and Hannah recently traveled with director Audrey Jacobs to join us at the Council on Foundation's Annual Conference on Family Philanthropy. The theme was “Sea Change: Redefining Family Philanthropy” and brought together hundreds of families to talk about multiple giving vehicles. Hannah and Kevin participated in sessions focused on “Catalytic Philanthropy” and “Raising Philanthropic Children”.
Read more about the Salwens’ journey together in their new book “The Power of Half: One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and their "Power of Half" website promoting their work. Below is a family video sharing the story of their efforts as well as recent stories in the press about their philanthropy.
"What Could You Live Without?" by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times
"Family Sells House, Donates Half to Charity" on WABE, local NPR station
"Why We Gave Away our Home" by Kevin Salwen in Parade Magazine