I mentioned in a newsletter a few weeks ago that as part of their monthly pocket money, we give our kids a budget for charitable giving. We received so much positivity around this (including readers who started to do the same for their tiny babies!) that we wanted to talk a bit more about it.
Where it all began
Our kids are aware of both the importance of giving, of helping other people and of the huge blessings which abound in their own lives. Philanthropy for many years revolved, as it does for many children, around Red Nose Day, Children in Need (aka wear something spotty day…) and other causes chosen by their respective schools.
Three years ago, small boy decided to take on Tour de Moor, an annual cycling challenge organised by our local hospice. His little legs did an AMAZING job on nearly 12 miles of Dartmoor hills and he declared it to have been ‘one of the worst and best days of his life’.
A year after that, the same hospice organised an art trail around the city and our children’s love for St Luke’s was cemented. A combination of a personally transformative experiences delivered by St Luke’s meant that they were deeply ensconced into both psyches, making them firm (and likely lifelong?) fans.
For a long time, they didn’t even know what Hospice care was, and it didn’t matter. It was what St Luke’s did for them which sealed their devotion.
Small girl will, in a few weeks undertake her first St Luke’s challenge. A 15 mile midnight walk taking in the sights of the city (to clarify, she is a small ten year old, we will need a lot of Haribo).
Cause vs organisation?
The clever and most excellent Wayne Murray asked on Twitter recently:
Charity bods at all levels: Do you mainly consider yourself as part of a cause, or part of an org?
Answers cited both, but whilst cause remained a powerful motivating factor which tended to grow over time, organisational loyalty tended to hinge upon how individuals were treated as employees.
For our children it’s a different matter and they veer between supporting causes and organisations based on their own small (but growing) sphere of experience:
- Small boy has always been concerned about homeless people in our home city
- Small girl likes to surf in Cornwall and is worried about the amount of plastic in the ocean
- Both think that monkeys are cute and don’t want to see them extinct
- Both love St Luke’s because they’ve experienced amazing events / opportunities organised by the charity
“We are not kind to be noticed. We are kind because it’s the right thing to do.”
This quote is from footballer, activist, philanthropist and all around hero Marcus Rashford, who saw the efforts of a young fundraiser and sent him a Playstation in the post!
I wouldn’t currently describe our children as ‘philanthropists’. They are donating money each month because we make them. It’s part of the deal and (sometimes if we’re honest) they don’t relish the conversation about ‘who do you want to help this month’?
But this is about building a lifelong habit of gifting (alongside saving and investing). Whilst they may not fully appreciate it now, and whilst their reasons for selecting one charity over another might be sometimes frivolous, we believe that bringing conversations about giving to our dining room table will help our two small people to become better humans in the long term.
Actions you can take now:
- Do you have kids? Give them a monthly philanthropy budget – see what they do with it (ours get £5 each – it’s doesn’t need to be huge).
- Tell your friends and family what you’re doing. Let’s encourage and normalise giving
- Remember your favourite charity in your will and chat to those closest to you about it. Let’s encourage and normalise legacy giving too.
- If you work in supporter services think about how you profile your donors. My daughter is ten so doesn’t use an email address. She has to use mine, but I’m not the person making the gift. What tech can you use to find out more about who is making the decisions.
- Are you encouraging families and children to participate in your events? Do you host events designed for families?
- Don’t shy away from asking people of all ages to consider lending their support. Young people should be offered the same opportunities to help others as older people. Think long term and consider lifetime value!
Small girl would LOVE a few more sponsors for her 15-mile Midnight Walk in August. If you can spare a few pounds, you can sponsor her here.