Play Makes Smart Giving

by | Jun 7, 2017

Lego kids have come of age, and I don’t mean recently. They’ve been of age for some time now. You probably remember stumbling over Lego bricks or trying to build the picture on the box.

Your forty-something-year-old kids had their share of boxes and buckets of Legos, and now your grandchildren are going to the Lego movie, a popular computer-animated adventure comedy film.

All that creating and building. All that play. Oh, and yes, all those bricks that drifted under the sofa, bed and car seat. Now that the clean-up is history do you ever wonder if there was any value to all that play? Is there a return on that investment?

Evidently, the answer is yes. According to Pat Kane, author of The Play Ethic, it is absolutely fundamental to both society and individuals. Kane makes the point that the work ethic of the last three centuries, and especially the industrial age, does not equip us for the modern world we live in today.

Why is play important to philanthropy? Why is it important to you and me? At the crux of making smart giving decisions is the assumption that the organizations we support are also smart. We assume the executive leadership and board of directors are making forward-thinking decisions that ensure our gifts are used in the best way possible – effective, efficient and today’s over-used word – smart.

The Lego kids you raised learned to think differently than you and me. I was a Lincoln Logs kid growing up, but I was sure limited in what I could build. Kane says play makes us more creative, better problem solvers, better out-of-the-box thinkers.

Come to think of it, out of the box is exactly where most of the Lego bricks could be found!

I suspect Lego kids are more creative and better problem solvers than I am.

Legos were the brainchild of a Danish company. The name comes from a Danish contraction leg godt that means “play well.” The Latin interpretation means “I put together.” 

What a perfect combination – play well and I put together.

Lego Giving is Smart Giving

Use the Lego philosophy to play well. Make decisions about what organizations to give to by seeking out those committed to doing their work in the most effective, efficient, and creative way possible. Smart giving goes beyond supporting the interests of friends and family.

• Join with other donors to have the greatest impact. Invite others to join you in the Lego spirit of “I put together.” Or help organizations get together on ideas in the spirit of collaboration.

• Invite your forty-somethings and thirty-somethings and twenty-somethings to join you in giving. Invite their ideas about the project or the organization. Get a return on your investment in Lego bricks by seeking ideas from the creative problem-solver you raised.

My point is that our world has been changing for some time. You already know some of the most creative thinkers around – you raised them.

Make the best giving decisions possible today by engaging and trusting the generations coming behind us. If that feels a little scary, then I suggest you invite your grandchild to bring their latest Lego set over and get right in the middle of building something. Or, go out and buy your own bucket of Legos to get your creative, giving juices flowing.


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