Family values are established over time, often by older members of a family modeling behaviors through repeat experiences and actions.
When consistently demonstrated to younger family members, values such as civic engagement, volunteerism and generosity help create a shared understanding for how resources should be prioritized. Shared experiences create a history of caring for one’s community that can be passed down over time to future generations.
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Age-Based Family Giving
For young children (ages 3-5), tangible activities such as spending a Saturday morning picking up trash at a neighborhood park are ways to instill a spirit of giving back. Hands-on projects are the most effective way to show the connection between your family’s collective efforts and a positive outcome for community.
For elementary-age kids, concepts such as saving, budgeting and giving become less abstract.
Allowances help establish and reinforce behaviors related to money, such as the decision to buy a popular toy or save up for a video game. Many parents encourage school-age kids to divide their allowance into categories, such as “Share, Save, Spend”. Click here for an easy do-it-yourself piggy bank that kids can make themselves.
Parents can work with children to research different organizations to support – including going on site visits –which increases awareness and sensitivity to different issues. This also creates shared experiences that help build a history of family stories, in turn solidifying family values.
Teenagers are exploring their own identities and establishing their independence. Often, they are participating with peer groups through school, sports or religious affiliation.
Volunteering can build teenagers’ leadership skills through accountability and decision-making. Other family members, such as aunts and uncles, cousins or grandparents, can engage teens in discussions about how they make a difference through volunteering or charitable giving.
In the Wall Street Journal article “How Family Foundations Can Pass on the Philanthropy Flame to the Next Generation”, different ideas are presented for charitable families who are committed to creating a more formal approach to giving back. The San Diego Foundation can also meet with you and your family to help explore and develop strategies for giving back together.
Regardless of age, family celebrations are a prime opportunity to teach lessons about generosity and instill philanthropic traditions.
Birthdays or the holiday season can be a time to encourage donations to a loved one’s favorite charity. Weddings or anniversaries might include a volunteering component or be hosted at a nonprofit venue, to grow awareness of its mission.
Helping others helps you live longer and spend more time with the ones you love. Giving time, talent and/or treasure together as a family strengthens understanding of each other’s passions, fosters appreciation for unique abilities, and eventually builds the foundation for a lasting philanthropic legacy.