WSJ: How to Raise a Philanthropist

The Wall Street Journal published an article this week about a growing trend among affluent families of teaching their children the importance of giving. Thankfully, “doing good” is not dependant on financial status!

There are always opportunities to pass along to the younger generation the value of helping others.  The article suggests practical ideas applicable to any parent, like simply talking about the “good feeling” you get from giving, bringing children with you to volunteer and visit charities, or letting kids educate parents on causes they care about, rather than the other way around.

We believe philanthropy is a vital life lesson that you’re never too young to learn. Here are just a few ways The Salvation Army can help your family put some of these suggestions into practice:

11 yr. old Stephen Smith hosts a party every year to gather toys for the needy. Photo: Eric L. Kayne, for USA TODAY

  • Have your kids collect their old clothes and toys for giveaway and bring them with you to donate to a Salvation Army Family Thrift Store. Make the experience even more impactful by explaining how their gift will benefit people in need, and use the videos and resources at our website www.satruck.org to show them real life stories.
  • Make special occasions about ‘others.’ Start a family tradition to make a donation in your child’s name on their birthday, purchase and give a toy at Christmas time for a child in need through Salvation Army Angel Tree, or serve a meal together at a Salvation Army shelter at Thanksgiving.
  • Make volunteering a family event, such as serving meals together at a Salvation Army shelter or being bell ringers. Visit your local Salvation Army corps to learn how you can help address your community’s specific needs.

9 yr. old Connor Howard was so moved by news coverage of the Haiti earthquake that he started a collection at his school.

  • Find out what they’re passionate about. The Salvation Army serves a vast range of needs that they can get involved with or learn more about on our website. Maybe they have a desire to help other kids or feel strongly about supporting disaster survivors – they could get started right away by sending a child in need to summer camp or donating to our disaster relief efforts.
  • Empower children to donate financially. Have them fill out the online donation form for you or let them click the “Donate Now” button. Give them some change to put in the Christmas Red Kettle, or help them host their own online Red Kettle.  You could even ask them if they’d like to put a percentage of their allowance toward supporting The Salvation Army.

14 yr. old Ryan Cox has provided thousands of pounds of food for the hungry through his “gleaning efforts” that started with a service project and has become a years-long effort.

  • Put your money where your mouth is. Offer to match a donation that your child makes. Set a long-term goal to work towards to give your child a greater sense of accomplishment and help your family work together as a team.
  • Gear school and extra-curricular projects towards philanthropic causes. Programs such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts require participants to design and implement service projects. Many children and young adults have worked with The Salvation Army to complete their assignments and benefit their communities in the process.

Learn more about how The Salvation Army serves 30 million Americans in need every year by visiting our website www.salvationarmyusa.org or find us on Facebook and Twitter.