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They grow up so fast. One moment they are taking their first steps and before you know it they are getting ready to face the real world, becoming individuals that will shape the future. But what are the tools that we are giving them, as parents and as a community, to build a better tomorrow?

There is a growing disparity in the opportunities available to the next generation. And going by the United Nation’s estimate that our population will rise from an already staggering 7.5 billion to 9.5 billion in 2050, we can anticipate that there will be a greater need to bring up a generation that helps each other rise together. Every responsible parent wishes the best for their child and tries to give them the right education, a loving home, and secure future. But in today’s world, there is one more virtue every child should be taught – philanthropy.

Philanthropy has taken many forms in the past. The two most traditional forms being financial contributions and voluntary work. The popular method of collecting charity in the form of money is through donation drives, auctions, and charity events. Voluntary work, on the other hand, demands the contribution of time but is also deeply satisfying for a compassionate heart.

There are many benefits to teaching children the art of giving:

  1. Empathy – All young children are naturally compassionate, but this trait needs to be nurtured. Involving children in charity teaches them that even a child making the smallest contribution can make a difference in the world. Nurtured and mastered empathy could be very useful for many professions like medicine, human resources, and even politics.
  2. Gratitude – Charity work makes children feel grateful. Meeting and learning about those less fortunate than them will help kids become more compassionate and appreciate what they have in life.
  3. Intellectual growth – When a child is given the opportunity to choose and donate their allowance or time to a charity of their choice – they learn money management, math and also feel more empowered and independent. All of which are important skills for when they are ready to go to university or even step into a corporate environment.
  4. Social success – Participating in a charity of their own interest, helps a child develop and learn more about their passions. For example, if a child is an animal lover, participating in a charity that involves animals helps them share their passion with like-minded friends and learn more about the subject.

According to an article written by philanthropic strategist Bruce DeBoskey,

“No matter the size of a family’s philanthropic budget, the consistent involvement of younger generations (and recognition of their interests) can enhance family connectedness and communication, teach kids to acknowledge the lifestyle they’re privileged to enjoy, transmit values to future generations—and leave a lasting family legacy.”

Today, it has become far easier to introduce the younger generation to philanthropy. Charitable organizations have become more dynamic, accessible and most importantly, digital. No matter your child’s age or interest, there is a philanthropic organization to match.

Here are a few points on how to get your young one started on the road to a philanthropic future:

  • Start them young. Children as young as 4 years of age can be introduced to the world of philanthropy. Begin with small acts of charity at home – like donating old toys, books and even clothes with complete awareness of where it is going.
  • Make it a family activity. Let your child watch as you participate in charitable activities like marathons or donation drives. Leading by example has always been the most powerful way to instill a habit in children.
  • Have the ‘allowance’ conversation. Philanthropy strategist DeBoskey suggests a 3-jar system for allowances – one for spending, one for saving and one for charity. No matter what the amount, this three-way split goes a long way in teaching children the right values.
  • Make them accountable. Sit with your child and review a few charity organizations and give them the choice to pick one. Encourage them to get deeply involved in the cause. For example, help your young one organize a charity collection in their neighborhood or school. Or if they are over 16 years of age, help them launch an online campaign with family and friends through social media.
  • Get creative with charity. Fill their monthly schedule with interesting activities like Random Acts of Kindness, Pay It Forward, #givingtuesday and encourage them to come up with their own ideas for charity by observing their community.
  • Make it a habit. Encourage children to help neighbors, help elders, give blood, start a class project, show compassion for animals – all of which will go towards honing their philanthropic acumen. Applaud their creativity and proactivity when they show the initiative to help those in need.

Now more than ever, our world is in need of compassion, contribution, and charity. By encouraging our children to be charitable, we teach them that helping those in need is a way of life. It is up to us to raise a generation of individuals who believe that the world is a part of their home. And after all, charity begins at home.

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