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Philanthropy is a powerful tool that goes beyond benefiting communities—it also serves as a cornerstone for instilling values and financial literacy in children. Effective philanthropy requires a blend of money management, organization, and impact awareness. It can reinforce the values of hard work, accountability, and strong communication. By involving children, even adult children, in philanthropy, families can help them build confidence, professional networks, develop cultural awareness, and foster stewardship.

Sharing the reasons behind your own philanthropic endeavors and the joy derived from giving helps children grasp the core tenets of Catholic beliefs: sharing blessings, loving others as ourselves, and contributing to the Kingdom of God. Understanding personal values and the meaning of impact aids in targeting relevant organizations for support. Making a tangible difference in the community and the world, in ways that resonate personally, deepens the joy derived from giving.

Supporting children and other rising generations in engaging with philanthropy can enhance their financial skills and assist them in defining their values. Here are some ideas to engage these generations:

1) Give Them Money

Provide young children with an allowance and encourage them to save, spend, and give a portion of it. This cultivates financial literacy, budgeting skills, and even basic business acumen. For adult children, offer gifts in the hope that they will pay it forward. Challenge them with a specific grant amount and task them to make an impact with it.

2) Encourage Volunteerism

Volunteering time and talents can be as impactful as monetary donations. Volunteering provides exposure to our communities needs and insight into how different organizations can address these needs. It also provides valuable work experience, teaches collaboration and teamwork and introduces us to networks with shared interests.

3) Share Personal Giving Experiences

Communicate your own reasons for giving, the impact you’ve witnessed, and the joy derived from philanthropy. Discuss how you research organizations, manage budgets for giving, and balance planned donations with impromptu giving. Share how your philanthropy has evolved over time, highlighting any lessons learned or changes in focus. Reviewing your giving can provide understanding in how you defined what works for you and revealing your values and areas of interest. Don’t be afraid to share what you considered to be a mistake or aspirations you must do more than you are currently doing. Philanthropy is a journey.

4) Involve Them in Decision-Making

Encourage children to explore and recommend organizations or causes close to their hearts. This can help them identify a range of giving levels and methods to understand different impact and outcomes as strategic, not necessarily large, can be most impactful. If applicable, involve them in the decision-making process for Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) engage them in selecting the organizations to grant to, imparting knowledge about charitable giving and financial stewardship. Donor Advised Funds allow you to name your children as successor advisors (and the Catholic Foundation DAFs allow for two generations of successor advisors.

5) Encourage Opportunities for Leadership

For families with private foundations, invite adult children to serve on committees or boards. This engagement in formal governance exposes exposure to budgets, decision-making, and fiduciary duties. In these roles they can be given assignments such as conducting a budget review or developing a strategic grant-making process.

Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) are often alternatives to family foundations as they are less expensive and require less legal logistics to establish. Engage your children as successor advisors as these roles can help them understand the basic tax advantages of charitable giving.

Encourage them to serve on a board of a nonprofit. Many nonprofits are looking for rising generational members for their board of directors. These roles will provide an opportunity for them to be actively involved in defining the vision and strategy for an organization they care about.

In engaging in these intentional acts of philanthropy and meaningful conversations, families create a legacy that extends far beyond monetary contributions. It becomes a journey of discovery, growth, and shared values, enriching the lives of both givers and recipients. Together, we empower the rising generations to become compassionate stewards of a brighter future, where generosity and social responsibility pave the way for a better world.

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