Encouraging Young Philanthropists

This adorable girl plans to build a community that helps anyone in need through the generosity of the private sector.  At six years old, she already has a strong conviction to help others and she’s found the solution! Other than natural goodness, something tells me that she has been influenced by somebody older than her…


Do you ever wonder what the younger “plugged in” generation will be like in the future? According to the New York Times, the average kid spends over 7.5 hours each day using technology: perusing internet sites, watching TV, playing video games and listening to music. Sadly, I can’t help but think that sounds like 7.5 hours completely disconnected from reality.

I started looking into the subject and realized that while yes, hours spent on mindless internet sites will rot the brain (I think those precise words were used in the scientific study), new technologies have actually increased youth involvement in philanthropy. The Washington Post article states that exposure and connection to world problems encourages young people to get involved.

But outside of promoting awesome ideas online, how do we encourage the younger generations to leave their computers and “Do the Most Good” in the real world, face-to-face with those in need?

The answer? Take the lead!

The following are a few ways to kick start active volunteerism with the children in your own family (or with kids you know!):

1)      Train from the start! The best way to instill philanthropy habits (and ultimately, fiscal responsibility) is to encourage kids to give as soon as they begin receiving.

Here’s an example: An article from www.savvysugar.com encourages parents to start a “Give Away” jar for their kids containing a certain percentage of earnings, say, 10%, from chores or a job that will go directly to someone in need. For the three-year-old in the story, this was something as simple as a gift for a friend in preschool or, at an older age, giving groceries to a family in need.


2) Encourage children to do what they are passionate about. I remember when I was younger, my school supported a young impoverished girl in Ethiopia who was my age and starving. Realizing the age connection between us spurred an unbelievable amount of support on my part. Ask your children questions to find out what sort of cause they would like to support and then go for it!

3) Make it a group effort! If charitable efforts aren’t already, make them a family affair. As a group, decide which nonprofit organization or charity you’d like to help and then determine the ways in which you’ll help as a family. Your example as a philanthropist will motivate your children to be lifelong volunteers and supporters of those in need.


4)      Call your local Salvation Army! I can almost guarantee they will need volunteers either now or in the future. Visit our website to find your closest branch.

For other volunteer ideas and ways to get involved, click here.