In every generation, in every religion and society, we invest in our future, our children, and teach them lessons that will carry society and humanity forward. From the 3R’s, the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, we provide them with the building blocks to learn and succeed.
When we teach our children, let’s also instill in them the 3P’s – Passion, Purpose and Philanthropy.
You know what makes you feel good, validated, and alive. Your passion is what moves you to action, what causes you to care, and what differentiates you. Passion is controllable and can be laser focused to help you or others reach a goal. In the world of charitable giving, passion is what drives us to be creative, solution-focused and mobilize our capacity to make a difference.
With intention, we bring our thoughts to action. When we examine our purpose, we consider deeply the values that are most important to us and how we can exercise our ability to achieve our purpose. The decision to make a charitable gift is a conscious act that affixes our personal stamp on the world.
Not charity, not social justice, not alms to the poor, but all of this and more. Philanthropy, technically “love of humanity”, is the expression of giving of one’s time, talent and resources to enhance and improve the lives of others as well as the world we all share. By merging passion with purpose, one can become a philanthropist and have a meaningful and lasting impact with their gifts.
Parents are tasked with educating their children by schooling, through action and by sharing their love. Teaching is best done by example, and it is the activist’s hope that each generation will build and leave the community and the world in a better state than when they entered. Musicians Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY) said it best – “teach your children well” – and it is when it comes to philanthropy, the generational impact can be far more influential than the act of giving itself. Conscious strategic giving has the potential to stimulate the development and implementation of new and exciting therapeutic interventions, teaching strategies, physical therapies, or unlock musical talents that may otherwise never be realized.
I once had the privilege of working with a donor who wanted to fund a scholarship to provide a university education for a student who otherwise would have had no chance. What was his motivation? “When I was a child”, he said, “we had no money. Someone took a chance and made it possible for me to go to school and now it is my turn.” The investment in that child, a lesson taught through action, continues to pay dividends. Today, that child-turned-philanthropist continues merging his passion with his purpose. Quietly, deliberately, without looking for recognition, he is having a meaningful and lasting impact, improving the world.
Parents, now is the time to invest in teaching your children well, giving them the gift of understanding their purpose, unfurling their passion, and cultivating their philanthropy so they can give of themselves and learn how they can allow others to rise to greatness.
*Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1969
The Pot and The Plate — How to Teach Your Children Well
Here is a simple and practical way to introduce and empower your child to be part of the world of philanthropy.
(NOTE: You will have to do a little work, but you all will be much richer for it.)
1. Set aside a sum of money, say in lieu of an allowance or as a birthday or holiday gift, for each of your children, with the purpose of regifting to someone else. That money is called “the pot”.
2. Choose 3 different charities that may be relevant and resonate with your family or your child. Each of these charities are called “the plate”.
Charitable organization examples may include:
- Local Food Banks (secondharvest.ca)
- Children with Disabilities (kaylaschildrencentre.org)
- International hunger relief (feedthechildren.org)
- Youth Sports programs (kidsportcanada.ca)
- Community Programs (kaboom.org)
3. With your child, visit the website for each of the charities (or better yet visit the organization in person). Ask them to identify what activities have an impact on the beneficiaries. Try to tease out answers to the following questions (take notes to help along the way):
- What did they remember most about the charity?
- What activities or programs were most interesting to them?
- What activity or program was the most important?
- Which would they like to give money to, to help them do their work?
4. Remembering that “you can’t put more on the plate than you have in the pot”, allow each child time to think and to ask questions about the charities, and how much and to whom they want to give their money. It could be that they want to divide it equally or give all to one. How they allocate the pot is their decision. Then empower each child by letting them decide how to allocate their pot.
5. Once they have decided, together, make the allocation/donation to the charity/charities of their choosing.
6. After a few weeks, discuss the process and their giving decisions with your child:
- How did they feel when they made the gift?
- How do they feel now?
- Would they make the same decision today?
- Would they like to do this again?
Congratulations! You have helped build a new philanthropist!