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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Teaching the value of money through philanthropy | Richard T. Weiland,, Vancouver Su

This column focuses mostly on people who can afford to establish foundations for charitable purposes--and eventually involve their children in managing it.

But the sentence that stood out mostly to me, as a typical middle-class worker, is this:
Some parents make gifts to charities during their lifetime and involve the children in the process.
For more than three decades, I gave an ever-growing contribution to multiple nonprofit organizations through my workplace fundraising campaigns. I've been a vocal advocate and leader in those campaigns, pleased with their apparent success (yet also disturbed at times how low employee participation can be in supporting them). I also gave outside the workplace.

One reason I support  workplace campaigns so strongly is that giving a regular donation from our paychecks is a simple, painless but effective way to make significant contributions for multiple human service agencies. Symbolically, we can "give once and for all," as promoted in one campaign I supported.

Yet those donations can be so unnoticeable, after the initial decision-making, that we contributors might forget about the continuing value of our gifts to our community, country and world.

And our children might not know anything about them. Unfortunately, that's the way it was in my family. I don't recall telling my now-30something-sons about my workplace contributions--let alone involving them in the process of choosing the recipients.

That was a mistake. I'm hopeful my children learned about my altruism in other ways and value the model I tried to set for them.

Instilling in our children the willingness to give is an essential part of parenting. And this column makes a valuable suggestion about involving our children in the process of our giving--instead of doing it alone, privately, invisibly. Doing certainly doesn't apply to only wealthy philanthropists!

This column ends:

Whatever the plan, the key to its success as a teaching tool is involving the next generation in the philanthropic process. 
While the parents may have come to respect money because it was difficult to come by, the hope is that the children will gain a similar appreciation by a different path - by discovering how a dollar well-spent can have a significant impact on the lives of fellow human beings.

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