Philanthropy is often defined by the financial generosity of figures such as Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffet, yet very few people will ever have the means to give the ways in which they do.
While many people are mindful of encouraging children to help make the world a better place for future generations, the tangible ways to inspire a philanthropic spirit in children are not as readily accessible.
The good news is giving comes in multiple forms. Giving personal time, volunteering, engaging in advocacy, or giving material goods are vital ways philanthropists can make a positive impact as well.
Philanthropy is possible at all ages—it just takes a little creativity.
For younger children, keeping things simple can be incredibly effective. Make a “charity” jar for a portion of their allowance. Let the child decide when and where to donate, and consider matching your child’s donation. Another option is to visit a charity or event, asking the child for input in selection and planning.
Perhaps even throw a charitable birthday party, where instead of gifts, guests bring an item to support the child’s charity of choice.
As children mature, so should your methods for teaching lessons. Give your child a charitable budget and ask them to conduct research and make decisions about distributions. Encourage them to research and select their own volunteer opportunities.
Identify neighbors who may need help and look for opportunities to assist. Picking up sticks after a storm, writing letters, making and delivering a snack or simply spending time with someone are personal activities that can make a lasting impression.
By the time a student reaches high school, the opportunities grow exponentially. Research and plan a volunteer day or Spring Break volunteer trip with friends, or make a long-term volunteer commitment. Be sure to learn what is needed by an organization during the research, and collect items such as clothes, canned goods, paper products, and personal items.
The use of social media and public advocacy through school, church, or social groups can help and highlight good work being done by organizations too.
Raising a philanthropist takes time and is a conscious commitment. Giving children the example and tools they need to create and live philanthropic values can empower them in creating an empathetic society that continues to make the world a better place.