Inspiring Children: How Learning to Give Impacts Children and Families
Laura Duvelius, Director of Development
During this time of year, many of us are used to receiving an annual appeal or other mailings from organizations that make a difference in our communities. Many of us take the initiative to write a check to support the causes we believe in and the change we want to see in the world. The act of giving benefits the giver and receiver, but can it benefit our children? Research says “yes”, philanthropy CAN benefit our children in significant ways.
1. Recognizing the Needs of Others:
Children are, in many ways, motivated by need. As parents, we know that learning to meet our needs in healthy and appropriate ways is an important part of growing into mature, stable adults. Independence and effective communication skills (and many other abilities) grow from this process. Sometimes, it can be challenging for children to see beyond their own needs and to recognize that others may have important needs too. Teaching our children about philanthropy is one way to help them recognize and appreciate the needs of others, and also understand that we all have an obligation to make our communities and world a better place. It can be a win-win for all involved. Recently, at the Adoptions Together Fall Family Day event, my nine year old daughter chose to share an auction item she won with a young lady who did not win. I did not see this exchange, but it was reported to me. The thought that she chose to do this without any prompting by an adult feels wonderful, and is an example of her growing understanding of the existence of needs beyond her own. I feel that our family philanthropy has helped her to be more sensitive to and aware of the needs of others, and to act upon that understanding.
2. Philanthropy as Empowerment:
Helping children to give, and to understand the real and tangible difference giving makes, can be very empowering. Often, kids feel like adults are the only ones who get to make the decisions that matter (my 9 and 11 year old have often been VERY clear on that point). Helping your children to define what they believe in, choose what they wish to support, and then find ways to impact that cause, is a powerful way to build confidence around choices. For example, our children are big fans of animals, and thus, have chosen to champion the cause of animal rights and protection. They both struggle with the thought of unwanted or homeless animals. In order to help them to feel and experience the tangible difference they can make, we spend time at local shelters and financially support several animal organizations as a family. Our family philosophy of giving has helped our children grow into caring, generous, accepting and welcoming children.
3. Building Change Makers for the Future:
Philanthropic giving also helps to create future leaders. The first step in creating change is recognizing the need for change. Teaching children about philanthropy helps increase their awareness of injustice, inequality and societal concerns that are important to them. The act of giving allows them to become the change they wish to see in the community or the world. Teaching family philanthropy helps our children to become future philanthropists, and empathic, giving, charitable members of society.
For more information about how to teach children about philanthropy,
6 Ways to Promote Philanthropy