How to Grow Young Philanthropists

by | Jul 24, 2015

A Young Philanthropist Begins

We asked a group of kids between the ages of eight and thirteen to come up with ideas to donate their own money. Two nine year old boys (an important element of the story) put their heads together in serious and silly discussion. When it was their turn to talk they were bold.

They wanted to find a group that supported baseball for blind kids. Yes, they were both ball players.

In that moment we saw right into their young ball-player hearts. Young philanthropists in the making.

The Question I’m Wondering About

Recently, I’ve been asking this question: What lessons are young fundraisers learning about generosity and giving? By young I mean primary and secondary school age. Frankly, I should probably include the college experience.

Often our kids are asked to get involved in fundraising projects for school needs, or maybe something a school group has adopted. Frequently, there are prizes involved for the most raised.

We are very proud of the fundraising they do and we show it by encouraging them, making a gift ourselves or buying the product, sharing the cause and the sign-up sheet with grand-parents, distant family members and our co-workers.

Over the last twenty plus years kids have actually become excellent fundraisers. They’re as good as or better than the Fuller Brush man was in the 50’s. Who could turn away a four foot tall kid with a smile or a shaky voice?

I always buy when kids show up at my door. Their cause seems worthy enough, but that’s not what motivates me to give or buy. I want to reward their bravery and encourage their heart.

My greatest problem is that the four foot tall kid at my door usually doesn’t know her heart yet. And yes for some reason in my neighborhood it is more often the girls than the boys. But not always.

Let’s not waste time analyzing what they’re learning in fundraising mode – fair warning though – these kids are going to be awesome fundraisers at nonprofits someday.

Let’s get right to the heart of the matter and discuss how to help them become philanthropists.

How To Grow a Philanthropist

  • Start with their passion – help them find it, even when they’re young
  • Encourage them to give some of their own money (translation: allowance or chore earnings)
  • Take them to see their gift in action when possible
  • Hang the thank you letter in their bedroom or put it on the fridge at their eye level

Philanthropists come in all sizes and shapes. Some like to really know a lot about what they’re giving to and others want to stay in the background drawing little recognition. Whatever the style it’s still the passion that drives the greatest giving.

What’s your young fundraiser’s passion today? Find it, grow it, feed it. Before you know it he’ll be 35 years old with the passion of a philanthropist.






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