Empowering Young Children through Philanthropy | Beth's Blog

Empowering Young Children through Philanthropy

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Note from Beth:  One of the things that I enjoyed most about IFCAsia was the networking opportunities to connect with other people in the region who share interests.  One of them was Vincent Law who is doing interesting work with teaching young children about giving and philanthropy.   When he told me the name of his program, I got excited because I had done a lot of research and writing about “PhilanthroKids” and he mentioned he was inspired in part by that post.    He has taken the idea and created an amazing program.  Read on for more.   We know that young people like Generation Z are future donors, so programs that help introduce philanthropy at a young age will a big pay off down the road.

Empower Young Children through Philanthropy – guest blog post by Vincent Law, CEO and Founder at PhilanthroKids Academy

As you might know, the English word ‘Philanthropy’ has a Greek origin. It has two parts: ‘philos’ meaning ‘loving’ and ‘anthropos’ means ‘human being’. In other words, philanthropy means the love of mankind. Throughout history, philanthropy plays a very important role because it directly impacts our wellbeing. Different culture has different understanding of philanthropy and we use different words to represent various aspects of the concept. In most cultures, philanthropy existed a long time ago.

The world’s largest association in advancing philanthropy is probably the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) in the US. Founded in 1960, it has more than 30,000 members in over 240 chapters around the world. Not only as a professional member, I served as a chapter president and on International Board of Directors for the past 4 years. Each year AFP organizes an international fundraising conference, attracting more than 4000 professionals from 60 different countries to attend over 100 different sessions over 3 days. In 2010, the conference was held in Baltimore, Maryland. At one of the pre-conference master classes, I met 2 young women from Cairo. One of them was the curator of the world largest archaeological museum, Grand Egyptian Museum.

It was her first time to attend such a large conference. I was there as a new trainer. She came up to me and said she was very impressed by the history of American philanthropy and the AFP professionalism. I then said to her ‘Don’t you know that Egyptian has a longer history of philanthropy than the Americans?’ On the first page of the 300 page manual in your hand, it was written, Throughout history, since the Egyptian Book of the Dead 6,000 years ago, people have believed that helping others was a key to happiness and good works.’

So while we admire the wonders and success of others in philanthropy, we could have a look at our own culture and we might find a longer and more impactful history of philanthropy in our own society.

Kids in Philanthropy

Among various kinds of philanthropy, I have a passion for children’s well-being especially the psychological aspects. So in 2006 I founded a charity called Child Psychoecology Foundation (CPF). Our aim is to promote the psychological well-being of young children in Hong Kong through parent-child activities using media such as art, music, drama and story-telling. We organize educational talks, workshops, exhibitions and public performances. In our 10th anniversary, CPF collaborates with AFP to develop a philanthropy program for young children aged 3-12. The purpose is to empower young children through engaging them in philanthropy. We call this program ‘PhilanthroKids’ or Kids In Philanthropy (KIP) because it complements their youth program ‘Youth In Philanthropy, which is designed for teenagers from aged 13-18 and this extends the professional training of fundraising practitioners to philanthropy education of young children and their parents.

International Statement of Ethical Principles & 10 Principal Values of Philanthropy

The PhilanthroKids Programme is created based on values from the International Statement of Ethical Principles in Fundraising which was signed by more than 30 associations around the world in Holland in 2006. The Statement contains Five Universal Principles guiding professionals engaging in philanthropy which are Honesty, Respect, Integrity, Empathy and Transparency. These international standards not only are recognized by practitioners, they are also valued by philanthropists.

Based on the Five Universal Principles, we develop the Ten Principal Values of Philanthropy which include Kindness, Honesty, Respect, Openness, Generosity, Gratitude, Sympathy, Empathy, Responsibility and Trustworthiness. These fundamental values help children develop their philanthropic characters in life. Of course there are many important life values but these values are essential to philanthropy and transcend across different culture, race and faith.

Lead by Actions

American writer and Polymath Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I will learn.”

To help young children understand, we tell international folk stories to illustrate our ten values. These stories come from all over the world such as US, China, Russia, Japan, etc. For example we use the Chinese folk story, The Empty Pot to teach kids about honesty. The story was about the Chinese Emperor looking for his successor from a group of children. All were given a seed to go home to grow but they did not know that all the seed were cooked beforehand. Nobody could have grown anything however all children came back with tall and healthy plants. Only one boy who showed honesty by not replacing with other seeds was later declared by the Emperor as the future King.

But for older children who are cognitively advanced and understand geography and landmarks, we use real life philanthropy stories. We tell a story about the Statue of Liberty and how the little children helped to raise money to build the pedestal stone for the status in 1886.

The statue given by the French people was ready but it lacked the money to build the foundation. Joseph PULITZER, renowned for his International Prizes in Journalism later on, was the owner of newspaper The World. He pledged that anyone who donated would have the name printed on the newspaper. So in 5 months, they raised the $100K. About 121,000 Americans donated (most of it in less than $1). There were a lot of children names. This real story tells us how children could be mobilized to participate with the help of the adults.

1000 Action Tasks

Knowing the values is only the beginning. Ultimately, putting them into practice regularly and eventually make it a habit is what we want. That is why we need to show them clear instructions and reward them with praises. So based on each of the 10 Philanthropic Values, we list out 100 different tasks they can do daily. These tasks span across 3 main areas in children’s lives, such as at Home, in School and within Communities. So in total we created over 1000 different action tasks for children to follow. So it is the action tasks that we engage children to do that completes the learning cycle. In PhilanthroKids Programme we encourage 3T Giving. 3T stands for Time, Talents and Treasure. We want children to learn to be aware of their various kinds of resources and put them to good use in philanthropy.

International development

Ever since the launch of the PhilanthroKids Programme last year, I have spoken many times in Hong Kong and in international conferences in Beijing and Tokyo. Over than 2000 people have learnt about the program internationally. In Hong Kong we have implemented the PhilanthroKids Programme in schools as well as at our center. We are now working with an university in Hong Kong to include this program in the training of kindergarten teachers. One of the largest NGOs from China with tens of thousands of family members came recently to Hong Kong to study the feasibility of implementing it in Shanghai and other cities. In Japan, we not only discussed how we can learn from each other through international collaboration but also set up networks of PhilanthroKids and even Awards within the region.


Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, The Archbishop of South Africa, Desmond TUTU, was a keynote speaker of the AFP conference. He called fundraising ‘a noble profession’. I believe each of us has a higher calling. My calling is to empower children through my knowledge of philanthropy. And whatever good work you do, please make teaching young Korean children philanthropy a priority.

At last I want to share with you the story about a young Canadian boy Bilaal Rajan who was awardee of the AFP Outstanding Youth In Philanthropy at 13. He volunteered at UNICEF and raised $6,000 to help children affected by tropical storms in the Caribbean. He later initiated the UNICEF Canada Kids Earthquake Challenge, through which Canadian children raised $1.8 million dollars. He is the now the UNICEF Ambassador. His desires to help other children started when he was only 4. At the age of 17, he was addressing over a big group of full time professionals with decades of working experience. He asked them a question. ‘Put up your hand if you think that children are the leaders of tomorrow.’ Over half the audience, several hundreds put up their hands. But he said, “No! Children are not the leaders of tomorrow. Children are the leaders of today!”

If the children are the leaders of today, we should empower them with philanthropy to become good leaders.

Vincent Law is fundraising professional with 27 years of solid working experience and the founder of PhilanthroKids Academy.

4 Responses

  1. Lynn Haglin says:

    Hello Beth,

    I completely agree with Mr. Law’s passion for engaging children in philanthropy. We at the Northland Foundation in Duluth Minnesota launched our KIDS PLUS Youth In Philanthropy Program in 2000. The board is comprised of 14 young people – 8th grade through 12th – along with four adult mentors. The board members represent communities in the 7 county region of northeast MN and northeast WI. They consider proposals written and submitted by young people throughout our region for projects they have developed and will implement. The board can grant up to $1,000 per project for a total of $25,000 per year. It has been an incredible program, engaging young people from all backgrounds and interests. We have seen our board members grow in their understanding of philanthropy and the impact they can have on people and communities. They have shared with us how this experience has changed them – building their confidence, helping them consider viewpoints other than their own, and learning about philanthropy both from a grant-making perspective, as well as the significant role they play in helping other youth engage in philanthropy. This past year alone, the young people made 35 grants, totaling $25,257, engaging 9,971 children and youth, along with 1,600 adults, in school and community projects. Since 2000, the Youth In Philanthropy Board has had 86 youth and 19 adult members and has granted $389,869 to support 466 projects. As a foundation, we believe it is important to do our part in helping young people to have hands-on experiences to build their understanding of what philanthropy means.

    For 20 years, the Northland Foundation has developed and facilitated a nine-month KIDS PLUS Youth Leadership Academy for 50 ninth graders with 12 adult mentors. This program has a component that engages young people in identifying, planning, and implementing a community service project for a local nonprofit. This has been a powerful strategy in helping leadership participants learn about the needs in our community and understand how their involvement can make lives better through their service. They have shared that this experience has been life-changing in understanding their leadership skills, their awareness of what they have to offer to help others, and how their contributions, together with others, can impact lives and their environment. Since 1998, 1,224 youth and 375 adults have participated in the Youth Leadership Academy.

    With both of our programs, we are intentional about reaching out to young people who are not already in leadership positions and fully engaged in extra-curricular activities. We believe that all young people have the capacity to contribute to making other people’s lives better, they just need to be given the opportunity to get involved, build understanding, and have real life experiences with philanthropy.

  2. Beth Kanter says:

    Lynn, thanks for sharing!

  3. Mahi says:

    Hi Beth,

    This is really good step for kids, it will help our society. Thank you very much for sharing these activities.

  4. Hi Beth,

    Every time we ready about the importance of kids helping others, we can’t help but smile 😉 My wife and I started our business, Share Your Wish, to give parents of young children a unique tool to introduce them to the idea of philanthropy early on.

    Anyway, we’d love for you to check us out and tell us what you think!!


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