The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), a nonprofit philanthropic consulting practice that helps companies, foundations, families, and individuals find innovative ways to maximize the impact of their giving, has released a guide to helping children find and shape their philanthropic values.
All parents have hopes and dreams for their children. They hope to see their children create loving relationships, achieve success in satisfying careers and make productive contributions to society. For many parents with strong moral, religious or civic beliefs, it may be particularly important that their children grow up to become caring, generous adults with deeply-held philanthropic values.
Families with wealth may have more pronounced and complex reasons to promote philanthropy. Parents who themselves have been raised in a tradition of stewardship may want to extend this legacy into the next generation. Parents also may be concerned about the potential risks of wealth on their children’s development, such as stunting their initiative, undermining their self-worth, or fostering a sense of entitlement, materialism, and isolation. Promoting appropriate and responsible philanthropy within the family is a wonderful way to surmount these challenges.
What are Specific Ways to Encourage Children to "Give Back"?
Philanthropy is often defined as an effort to improve society, based on love of humankind. While philanthropy usually includes money, it is most meaningful when it comes from the heart and includes the contribution of time and talents.
The following principles may help to guide your approach to philanthropy with your children:
- Take a cue from your children. Listen to them and support their interests.
- Talk reflectively and provide choices. Lecturing and forcing are ineffective. Serve as a resource to connect your children to opportunities.
- Be sensitive to your children’s developmental needs. What may engage them at one age may be a turnoff when they get older.
- Don’t worry! As long as you model your own philanthropic values, they will get the message. You may not see the results until later in life, when your children become parents themselves.