Graduations are upon us. They are celebrations for what is ending and for many what’s finally finished. They are a threshold event with doors opening and paths disappearing into foggy futures. They are a pivot moment for many graduates as they find their way into the work world.
For us, it brings unexpected surprises and memories. Opening the mail recently, I was startled by the announcement with images of a young woman I only know through her parents. I’ve known a little about her from the time she was a little girl. And that’s the way I think about her – a charming little girl. The young woman staring at me was grown-up and ready to take on college.
I’m debating how to congratulate and honor her as she starts into adulthood. How do I convey that I’m proud of what she’s becoming? How do I honor her sweet spirit and model generosity that respects her interests?
Graduations remind me of the day I graduated from John Tyler high school. I looked forward to going off to college and the key to my first car. It wasn’t a new car, but a car all my own.
Recently wrecked, the car had belonged to a distant cousin. After significant repairs, my parents bought it for my first car. I shed the cap and gown after the pomp and circumstance of graduation and headed out in my new car to join friends for my first night as a near-adult. Two blocks from home, I had my first flat tire.
So, I walked home to announce to my parents – yes, near tears – that I already had a flat tire. Of course, my dad sprang into action, still needed by his nearly grown-up daughter. With the tire changed, I headed back out to my big night with the first of many almost-adult lessons about unexpected events, navigating between independence and the need for help.
I spent the rest of the summer preparing to leave for college and working part-time. I still remember some of the gifts I received from family and friends of my parents. One of my mother’s cousins sent a book of poems about life that I kept for many years.
Generation Z is now graduating. Digital natives and social media savvy, this generation is independent and entrepreneurial. They are more collaborative than previous generations and more involved in early volunteerism and philanthropy than any generation before them. They already fundraise for causes they care about and know how to support friends and their causes.
Consider honoring the graduate in your life with a donation to a cause they care about. Also, include something small which they can use in preparation for whatever is coming next for them.
Tips for Deciding Where to Send the Honorarium
- Has the graduate volunteered at a nonprofit organization?
- Was there a school project their class did with a nonprofit?
- Ask the graduate where they would give if they had $1,000 to donate?
- Check their social media page – Facebook, Instagram, etc. Are they posting about a particular issue? Find an organization doing that kind of work.
- Have they actively fundraised for a project or an issue, and you can make a gift in their honor?
- What do they plan to study in college or hope to become? For instance, if he hopes to be a pediatrician someday, find a nonprofit that provides medical services to children.
- Do they talk about traveling to a foreign country to make a difference? Find a nonprofit working in that country.
Think about all the bits and pieces you know about the graduate and find somewhere to donate in their honor. Don’t worry if their dreams are idealistic.
It isn’t about being right or getting the perfect gift. A donation to a cause they are passionate about sends the message you are proud of who they are becoming and supportive of what is important to them.
Model generosity with a gift to a nonprofit organization and trust them to find their best future.
How are you modeling generosity for the young people in your life?
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