Every family that is involved in philanthropy hopes to raise children who are generous, not kids who grow up with a sense of entitlement.
Regardless of whether you want them to carry on the family’s philanthropy someday, you still want to raise them to be caring adults who will have fulfilling lives with a sense of purpose.
Here are seven ways you can help coach your children or grandchildren on how to be generous:
- Start young
The earlier you start, the easier giving will become a habit. This doesn’t mean that, if your child is a teenager, it’s too late to start. It may be harder to get their attention, but it’s still worth the effort.
- Be a role model
Do your kids know about the volunteering and giving you did as child or do now? Do you tell them about the organizations you donate money to and how you decide among the many that ask you to donate? How you handle giving can help them make their own philanthropic decisions.
- Help them find their passions
But let them decide what those passions are. Kids might do a volunteer project you enlist them for once in a while. But they will be much more engaged if it’s something they feel passionate about.
- Support their use of the Internet as a tool for philanthropy
But while we want to take advantage of this vital tool, the virtual world is not as a substitute for giving of themselves up close and personal.
- Don’t underestimate.
Even very young children are capable of helping—and should be expected to do so.
- Look for teachable moments
Read books or see movies together that have a giving theme and discuss them afterward. Devote dinner conversations or long cars rides to questions like “What kind thing did you do today?” or “If you had $1,000 to give to charity, what would you give it to?” And when you go to a children’s museum, zoo or other favorite place run by a nonprofit, explain that it’s there for all to enjoy because people donate time and money to support it.
- Teach your children about money
Financial literacy is important for their future, both for their personal well-being as well as their ability to be good stewards of the family’s philanthropy. Give them an allowance starting around age 5 or 6, and let them have some freedom to decide how to use it. Some parents require the allowance to be divided into three funds—sharing, saving, and spending. Don’t tie it to chores. Kids should have to do chores as part of their responsibility to the family. If they don’t do them, you can take away other privileges, but not the allowance; otherwise you lose it as a money-teaching tool.
Excerpted from Splendid Legacy 2: Creating and Re-Creating Your Family Foundation. With advice from some of the world’s foremost experts in family philanthropy, Splendid Legacy 2 offers information on topics such as how to involve multiple generations in your giving and how to assess and reinvent your foundation’s work.