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How To Raise A Charitable Child And Give Back As A Family

The Fatherly 2016 Guide To Giving Back is produced with the support of our friends at Johnson & Johnson.

Whoever said, “Tis better to give than to receive” wasn’t talking to a generous kid with their eyes on a sweet new VR headset. However, you should try and teach your children that lesson and, according to the numbers, now is the best time. Americans donated more than $373 billion to charity last year, the most generous year on record. By far, the greatest source of contributions were individuals (71 percent) and a sizeable portion of them came in December, so if you want to help outdo the 2015 total, there’s no better philanthropic source than your family and no better time than the season of giving. Even if you all know Junior is probably receiving that VR headset.

generous kid

Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation explains, “We try to raise our children … to see and understand the world around them, to respect the dignity of every person, and to think about what needs to be done to make the world more fair and equal.” You, too, can do that without the largest philanthropic budget in history — if you listen to a guy who advises folks you might find after the Gateses on that list.

As Founder and Senior Managing Director of the DC-based philanthropy consulting firm Arabella Advisors, Eric Kessler supports more than 300 foundations and donors worldwide and oversees billions of dollars in charitable donations every year. As the father of 2 kids, ages 8 and 10, Kessler knows how to encourage the youth to donate their allowance: the same way he advises his clients to donate their millions.

“Explore Until You Find Their Passion”

Determining the change you want to see in the world and then picking the organizations suited to help — not the other way around — is smart philanthropy. And kids aren’t dumb. If you let them explore and ask them prescient questions, they’ll find their passion. It probably won’t be yours and definitely will evolve over time (especially if their first choice is snacks) but encourage them to find it. The money is less important than learning the values of a philanthropist, and exploration of one’s passion is first on that list.

generous kids

“Keep It Fun And Engaging.”

Help Junior get past the fact that they’re giving up their ice cream money by getting out and showing them philanthropy in action. “You don’t learn compassion in school, you learn it in the real world, through experience,” says Kessler. “Whether it’s a trip to Africa or a few hours Thanksgiving morning at a homeless shelter.” Make it less about the transaction and all about the meaning.

“Have Real Conversations”

Like you, kids are bombarded with information daily, want to know what’s going on in the world, and are capable of having meaningful conversations about complex issues and their role in shaping the future. Don’t act so surprised! Keep it age-appropriate but don’t shrink from or sugarcoat those talks. Says Kessler, “Having personal conversations — ‘Why do you care about this? Where does that come from?’ — opens up a world of exploration that ‘How was school today?’ can’t.”

“Research And Analyze But Follow Your Gut”

Make sure the organization you give to is aligned with your interests and positioned to deliver. GuideStar has records and ratings for 1.8 million nonprofits you can review in minutes, leaving you time for what’s most important: experience. “No kid ever developed a passion for an issue or philanthropy by looking online. Passion comes from being on the ground, experiencing and participating in the programs they care about,” Kessler says. Put simply, “Volunteer before you write a check.”

generous kids

About Our Partners

Johnson & Johnson recognizes the impact that future generations can have as global citizens helping children and families around the world, which is why they created Donate A Photo and support the other charities below.

Save The Children — Gifts of Joy
Johnson & Johnson is matching all donations up to $450,000, which can fund gifts ranging from food to shelter to education to emergency relief and beyond starting at just $1.

A $100 Donation Provides: Sheep, goats, rabbits, soccer balls, blankets, blocks, trees, bees. Seriously, the catalog is incredible. Donate here.

USO Wishbook
The USO Wishbook is a catalog of gifts that help ease the strain of separation felt by deployed American troops and their families. Johnson & Johnson has pledged to match all donations dollar-for-dollar up to $400,000.

A $100 Donation Provides: A bundle of phone calls home and computer technology to stay connected. A pair of long-distance bedtime stories. Many care packages. Donate here.

Donate A Photo
Now, the simple act of sharing a photo allows individuals to raise money and awareness for causes they are passionate about. Use the Donate A Photo app for iOS and Android and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 to a trusted cause for every photo shared (one per day). Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal or the donation period ends. If the goal isn’t reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation — more than a million photos have already helped more than 100 causes.

A $100 Donation … Is Totally Unnecessary: You literally can’t donate $100. What you can do is make an impact (with the help of Johnson & Johnson) simply by sharing a photo towards a trusted cause. For example, one goofy selfie helps provide one warm blanket for a child in a refugee camp whose family lost everything.  Share Here.

This crowdfunding platform is dedicated to improving global public health. Johnson & Johnson will match all donations here, too, up to $250 per person per project until they reach a $100,000 cap.

A $100 Donation Provides: Not early access to the best cooler ever, but vital funding for worthy projects from empowering at-risk girls in Kenya to helping prevent diabetes for 20,000 people in India (and many, many, many more). Donate here.