Planting Seeds of Generosity: Nurturing a Love of Giving in Children

What connects a family across the generations? For many of us, shared traditions, values and memories are the threads that link one generation to another. Philanthropy can serve as a powerful tool for families to pass along these shared beliefs and values, while also creating opportunities to spend time together, collaborate on meaningful projects and learn from one another.

Engaging children in charitable giving can be challenging amid many competing demands for attention. However, involving kids in charitable giving and volunteering can nurture positive attitudes towards helping others and instill financial responsibility in younger generations. For nearly 30 years, Rose Community Foundation has supported generations of families, as well as individuals and businesses, in making an impact through their giving.

Nurturing a Love of Giving

Rose Community Foundation recently hosted a session for parents and grandparents to explore, share, and discuss strategies for instilling a love of charitable giving in children from a young age. When participants were asked about the first thing that comes to mind when teaching the youngest members of their family the importance of giving, one word stood out: essential.

Utilizing Growing Goodness, a philanthropic tool by 21/64, families learned about methods and best practices to cultivate a culture of generosity in children, helping them become active and engaged members of their communities. They also shared their own early memories of philanthropy, often rooted in experiences with their parents and grandparents, or at school or a house of worship.  Talking about family memories is a powerful way to inspire children to develop their own interest in giving.

Carmelita Galicia Munoz, Rose Community Foundation philanthropy advisor, facilitated the event and is a mother to two young children. “I want my daughters to know that they are never too young to help someone in need or use their voice to speak up against injustice – these acts are contagious,” says Carmelita. “Children spreading their individual love through time, treasure and talent makes a positive difference today and into the future.”

Where to Start

Walk Your Talk: Children closely observe and imitate the actions of their parents and grandparents. Reflect on how your behavior aligns with the messages you want to convey to your kids. Teach your kids about important issues in age-appropriate ways and involve them in decisions about where and why you choose to donate money or volunteer your time. 

Foster Conversations: Engage in open, curious dialogue with your children to build rapport and help them process their thoughts and questions about the world. What are they interested in? What are they passionate about? Kids can often find inspiration in their own community about issues they want to address.

Tell Family Stories: It’s more than just biographical details—highlight the stories and the “why” behind your family’s reasons for giving. Did a member of your family spend time volunteering or champion a local issue? Use photo albums and videos to bring these stories to life and engage your family.

Clarify Your Values: Engage in a values exercise with your children to discuss what matters to both them and the family. Explore how these values guide your decisions to how to spend, save, give, or invest.

Create a Visual Representation of Your Giving: In the age of online giving, it can be hard for kids to see where and how our money is being spent. Use coins, a whiteboard, or other visual aids to illustrate where your family’s donations are going and what causes you choose to support. This helps children understand and engage with the family’s charitable efforts.

Plans Into Action

To encourage continued learning and giving, Rose Community Foundation offers a list of organizations where families and children can volunteer together. You can also find opportunities for community engagement through Volunteer Match and Spark the Change.

If you are unsure of where to start the dialogue with your kids, Rose Community Foundation also has a list of conversation starters to help families explore their children’s philanthropic interests.

If you are interested in engaging multiple generations, try the Friends and Family Giving Circle Toolkit which provides step-by-step instructions to host your own 90-minute collaborative giving circle.

How We Can Support You

Rose Community Foundation staff can facilitate mission, vision, and values conversations, help families and donors develop giving strategies, and support families working across multiple generations with succession planning and legacy giving. For individuals seeking a locally informed and connected philanthropic partner, working with Rose Community Foundation is a flexible, efficient, and tax-effective way to take your giving farther.

And whether you, your children or your grandchildren give of your time, talent or treasure, know that local nonprofit organizations value and appreciate your support.

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