Encouraging the Next Generation of Philanthropists
This blog was written by Linda Corcoran, Director of Engagement and Philanthropy at Far Hills Country Day School.
Early 17th century, from the Greek word philanthrōpos, meaning love for others
charitable acts of money, time, or good works that are in service of others
We have all felt the warm glow that comes with doing something good for someone else. It is an expression of our concern for others, of wanting to fill a need, solve a problem and make things better—in short, of wanting to take action voluntarily for the betterment of organizations we believe in and the people they serve. We see evidence of this spirit every day at Far Hills Country Day School.
We are fortunate to have a strong culture of philanthropy at FH that is deeply rooted in our 90+ year history. The parents, grandparents, alumni, faculty, and staff within our community have been—and continue to be—extraordinarily generous with their time, talent, and treasure. Philanthropy is what keeps our dedicated Parents Committee humming along. It is what makes our golf outings and galas not only lively events but also successful fundraisers. It's what made the renovations of our science labs and Upper School classrooms possible over quarantine. And philanthropy is transforming the Arcadium into a state-of-the-art Learning Commons right before our eyes. You can read more about this transformational project here.
As parents, we want to raise charitable children. We want our children to experience the sense of purpose and joy that giving to others brings. But if we want our kids to grow up to be philanthropists, we must take the opportunity to teach them what that means. The current state of construction on campus allows us to teach children about the power and the purpose of giving back.
So, how can you encourage your child to be a philanthropist?
Be a Role Model
The best way to introduce children to philanthropy is to model charitable giving yourself. We all know that children learn behaviors by observing their parents. Charitable giving appears to be no exception. Consider telling your children about some of the charities you support, how you support them, and, most importantly, why you support them.
If you buy Girl Scout cookies, talk about what the scouts raise money for. Explain that even if you purchase only a box or two, when many people do the same thing, that collective effort makes a big impact. The same goes for supporting Far Hills. When you write a check to the Far Hills Fund, no matter the size, explain to your children that donations to the school ensure that all of our students have modern technology, art, and athletic supplies, extracurricular opportunities like field trips and Ropes Course days and, most importantly, the very best teachers in their classrooms.
The types of organizations most families support fall into a few categories: those to which you or your family are personally connected, organizations in your immediate community, or those that have a national/global impact, usually in response to a significant event. All of these philanthropic endeavors are worthy of family discussion.
Use Simple Models to Explain Charitable Giving
A pie chart is a simple, effective visual way to show kids how your total giving breaks down across different organizations. You might start with a "pie" of $100, let each dollar represent a percentage point, and distribute the money accordingly across the different nonprofits you support. Talk about how you research reputable organizations and show them examples of good stewardship (thank you notes, Gratitude Reports, etc.), so they learn that organizations have a responsibility to do what they promised with their donations and keep their donors informed.
Make Volunteering a Family Activity
We all know actions speak louder than words, and there's no better way to teach kids about giving back than through action. Find volunteer opportunities that support your family's values and speak to your child's interests. Libraries, animal shelters, and local food banks often encourage family volunteerism. The Service Learning Club at Far Hills often hosts charitable drives for canned goods, winter accessories, books, and toys. These activities are an essential part of the Far Hills student experience and provide a chance for families to talk about how charities work, who the recipients are, why people sometimes need assistance, and ways you can help.
In addition to volunteering, encourage your child to donate toys, clothes, and books they have outgrown. It's a tangible, easy-to-understand way for young children to help others (with the added benefit of decluttering your house!).
Point Out Examples of Youth-based Philanthropy
How cool is it to see kids raising money and awareness for things they believe in? It reminds us that everyone is capable of making a difference. When you see a lemonade stand set up in support of a children's hospital, point it out (or stop and buy a glass.). If the youth group at your house of worship is hosting a car wash to raise money for international relief aid, drive on through. The effort put forth by these kids is genuine and heartwarming. It is living proof that the future is indeed in very good hands.
Author Marianne Williamson once said, "In every community, there is work to do. In every heart, there is the power to do it." We are deeply grateful to the donors and volunteers who have opened their hearts to us this year, ensuring that Far Hills remains a vibrant, caring, and compassionate community. Yes, their spirit of philanthropy is essential to our success as a school, but more importantly, it sets an inspiring example for our children.
Questions about philanthropic opportunities at Far Hills?