How familiar does the scene sound? A group of upperclass older adults at a charity gala: they are dressed to the nines, bidding on auctions, mingling, drinking, and making incredible amounts of fiscal donations. Relatively familiar, right? This by no means is a bad thing. In fact, it is a great way that deserving causes get donations. They sell tickets and flash prizes and at the end of the night, count their winnings and hope they have reached their seemingly impossible goal.
Now picture this: a gala entirely put on by students for a cause they are extremely passionate about. It is nowhere near as glamorous as the previously mentioned one but it is authentic. It is filled with testimonials of young people making a difference in other people’s lives and how that has had a tremendous impact on them. Donations come from their best friend’s birthday checks and their supportive parents. Does this benefit make as much money as the first gala described? Probably not. But does it instill imperative values in young people? Absolutely. These students now understand what it is like to be fortunate. The understand what it means to care about a cause and how they can actually make a difference in the world. They now enter the adult and professional world as a more selfless, less greedy, philanthropic human. They are a better person. They make for a better generation. They make for a better world.
In high school, I was fortunate enough to join a club that sparked passion inside of me to want to give back. Getting involved with this club, co-founded by my brother, was my first introduction to real philanthropic work. As a club and a board member, I helped plan barbeques, supply drives, annual galas, and even got to visit the people I was helping. I got to see first-hand what my efforts were doing, and I have never felt such gratitude. This experience has shaped me into the person I am today. As someone who now continuously wants to give, I would say that this is most definitely a good thing.
I can only imagine the impact of what a whole generation of people who have had similar experiences to me as a 16 year old could do. Think about what it would be like if some of every kid’s allowance or holiday money was donated to a charity. Think about if that was the norm. Of course there are some parents who require their kids to do such a thing but what if there were kids who wanted to? What if there were kids who didn’t even give it a second thought; kids who would wake up on a Saturday, go play a soccer game and then go spend 3 hours volunteering at a soup kitchen without one complaint. These kids would then grow into adults that could quite literally change the world.
It may be hard as a parent to motivate your children to volunteer, but here are some tips that will help inspire them!
- Make it fun: Instead of having children volunteer in aspects that don't suit their interests, find causes they would find fun. For example, if they love puppies, take them to an animal shelter.
- Lead by example: Parents are role models to their children, if they see you doing something, they will want to do it too. Get them involved with charities you are already involved in to make it a whole family outing.
- Incorporate it: Set up a jar that receives money anytime your children do. Whether it be allowances or birthday checks from relatives, have them contribute a little bit into the jar. Once the jar fills up, allow them to choose a cause that is meaningful to them to donate the funds to.
Have any other tips that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments!
There is an incredible amount of good that could get done if we normalised charity donating and volunteering for children at young ages. I believe parents encouraging their children to be philanthropic is the most important lesson they could teach. Young people getting involved at even higher rates than they are now could and should be the future.