Kids and Philanthropy: Teaching Your Children To Be Charitable | Beth's Blog

Kids and Philanthropy: Teaching Your Children To Be Charitable


I was thrilled to be profiled in Fast Company’s Generosity Series this week.    Generosity is baked into my DNA and I can’t help it. I don’t do this with an expectation of any return–financial or otherwise.  I’ve been volunteering for community causes since I was a kid, something my family encouraged. I grew up at the Jersey Shore. When I was in the third grade, I volunteered to bake cupcakes to help fundraise for Lucy the Elephant (who thankfully survived super storm Sandy).

Now a parent with my own children, I involved my kids when they younger when I was fundraising for Cambodia or Creative Commons,    We have dinner table discussions on why it is important to support causes, particularly programs in Cambodia like the Sharing Foundation.   Growing up, my kids have posed for photos in t-shirtsemptied their piggy banks, helped me make fundraising videos, contributed clothing or other items to drives at school, and have attended lots of fund raising events.

Recently, our family took a homecoming trip to Cambodia where my kids were introduced to their birth country – and got to see the work of the Sharing Foundation first hand.   They even got to meet Keo Savon, the young Cambodian women that we are sending to college by donating the royalties from my book,   “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit” to the Sharing Foundation.

I also want to them to discover and follow their own sense of social activism and philanthropy and become Philanthroteens, teens with a passion for social change who grew up not knowing what it was like to not to have a cell phone or not to be connected to Facebook. The media has dubbed this generation “Qwerty Monsters”; they send hundreds of text messages a day and don’t even like to use their phone for calls. But it is more than the technology, it is also their passion to do good in the world.    I recently keynoted the Social Good Brazil Conference in November. I loved hearing about Isadora Faber, a preteen girl who lives in Florianópolis and is the creator of the page Daily Class on Facebook, which aims to help other teens in her country who want to make a difference in their communities by reporting problems in their schools. While her parents were concerned about her safety, she kept going. Faber is a Philanthroteen.

The good folks at Razoo offered me two gift $50 cards, one to make a donation to the charity of my choice and the other to give away.  I gave it to my daughter, Sara.    I asked her, “If you could give a donation to any charity to support whatever cause you feel is important, what would it be?”    She said she wanted to give money to an organization that helped homeless families.     I introduced her to my colleague, Mark Horvath’s organization, Invisible People, and we donated.  [Sara received a thank you email within a half hour and was thrilled]

Parenting Tips To Encourage Your Child’s Philanthropy

1.  Help Them Learn More About Nonprofits:  YouthGive is a site that helps young peole and their families easily donate to charities while learning more about the organizations.  The organizations listed are profiled by other young people.

2.  Let Your Kids Choose: Get a gift card from Razoo and let your kids tell you how to spend it.

3. Offer a Match: Blogger Marion Conway,whose children are now grown, recommended the book Raising Charitable Children by Carol Wiseman. With her children’s fundraising projects, she and her husband offered to match what they raised because they both worked for companies that matching gift programs.    Marion also recommends “Giving with Confidence” written by Colburn Wilbur, former CEO of the Packard Foundation with Fred Setterberg

4.  Set up a Spend, Give, and Save Allowance Policy: For younger kids, here’s a nifty piggy bank, with separate slots for investing, saving, spending, and donating is a great way to teach kids about devoting a portion of their income to charity.

5.  Encourage Them To Give Their Time:    Teach your kids that even if you are cash poor, you can donate your time to help a nonprofit, whether you are helping to sort food at a local food bank or contributing your professional skills to a nonprofit, can have an enormous social impact.   Here’s some resources from VolunteerMatch if you want to volunteer your time to help out hunger organizations.  And it can be a rewarding experience.

Youth in Philanthropy
Learning To Give
Youth In Philanthropy
Children for Children Foundation
Kids Can Make A Difference
Youth Noise

What other stories, tips, or resources would you add to this post?


13 Responses

  1. Stephanie Rogers says:

    Beth, another great article! I don’t have any children of my own; however I have the joy of being “Aunt Stephanie” for quite a few kids. You’ve provided some great ideas for me to use to help them see how important it is to do good things for others and how easy it is to give back! Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season and an amazing 2013!

  2. Neesha Rahim says:

    Beth, Thank you as always for the great ideas. Involving children in philanthropy is a passion of mine. I believe in it because it not only because I want to nurture their passion for social change, but because I believe it’s empowering, gives them perspective and in the end, is a source of happiness. I’ve been doing some thinking around how nonprofits might help bring children into the philanthropic fold in ways other than asking them to raise money. Here’s a blog post I wrote on the subject citing the work of 7 orgs I have found that do this well:
    Hope it inspires your readers to think of ways they can make their mission child friendly!

  3. Lynley Sides says:

    I love that you’re encouraging the types of activities with kids.

    The Glue Network gift cards offer very tangible charitable projects that the recipients can choose among – that are easy for kids to understand.

  4. Great ideas. I also always involved my son in philanthropy. When he was in second grade he decided he wanted to create a cookbook (we had a tradition of concocting new recipes and baking cookies together every Wednesday night) with all of his creations. He wanted to sell them, but insisted that a % go to the nonprofit for which I currently worked. I was so proud!

    Also, many times I would encourage the donors with whom I worked in setting of donor advised funds to meet annually with their children when it came time to make decisions about where they would recommend philanthropic distributions. These meetings always turned into wonderful family traditions — and many of those kids have gone on to become thoughtful philanthropists in their own rights.

  5. Beth says:

    Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences about kids and philanthropy. There is also volunteering and I just found about this cool site for teens to volunteer

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  7. […] I was thrilled to be profiled in Fast Company's Generosity Series this week. Generosity is baked into my DNA and I can’t help it. I don’t do this with an expectation of any return–financial or otherwise.  […]

  8. Paul Lamb says:

    Hi Beth! Thanks so much for writing this post. As a parent I’m always looking for ways to engage my 9 and 12 year olds in giveback activities. I love organizations like Koodooz which are developing new tools and approaches for this. BTW, if anyone is interested in developing a family giving plan, check out my friend Steve Ketchpel’s new book “Giving Back: Discover your values and put them into action through volunteering and donating.” It has lots of great suggestions on how to involve your kids in giving in an intentional and practical way.

  9. […] I was thrilled to be profiled in Fast Company's Generosity Series this week. Generosity is baked into my DNA and I can’t help it. I don’t do this with an expectation of any return–financial or otherwise.  […]

  10. […] Some haven’t.  In 2013, I will try some of the tactics below that Beth Kanter wrote about on her blog and keep some of my favorite approaches that I included at the end of this […]

  11. […] I was thrilled to be profiled in Fast Company's Generosity Series this week. Generosity is baked into my DNA and I can’t help it. I don’t do this with an expectation of any return–financial or otherwise.  […]

  12. […] Teaching Your Children To Be Charitable | Beth’s Blog […]

  13. Ira Riklis says:

    I love to hear about kids being involved in charitable events especially, when it is there idea. This article brought a huge smile to my face because just think, what if everyone was wired this way?