Middle-school students singing carols at a retirement home. Teenagers delivering meals to shut-ins or walking to raise money to fight cancer. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Brownies picking up trash at a city park.
Opportunities abound for young people to learn the value of giving — whether it’s time, talent or money. And nonprofit organizations are finding that it’s never too early to start grooming children, teens and young adults to become supporters in the not-so-distant future.
Here, three women who are heavily involved with youth in philanthropy share their insights.
Youth in Philanthropy: The Beginnings of a Movement
By Katherine Falk
“I thought I was the only one teaching children about philanthropy,” a woman told me recently during a session on youth and philanthropy at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ International Conference on Fundraising in Baltimore.
She’s a mother, loves children and has brought her passion to her children’s school. She was amazed to learn about the Youth in Philanthropy movement in our country today, as well as the myriad opportunities to help children reach their philanthropic potential.
More than 15 years ago, members of the fundraising community started to worry about the future of philanthropy, namely how America’s baby boomers would handle the impending intergenerational transfer of wealth from their parents.
There was concern then about whether the philanthropic values with which boomers’ parents were raised had been passed down, and if such values would be passed to their children and future generations. An innate sense, backed by research, led fundraisers to conclude that children needed to be taught philanthropic values just as they were taught how to say “please” and “thank you” — and that the best way to teach is to model behavior.
AFP’s early involvement
By the end of the 1980s, the AFP, then known as the National Society of Fundraising Executives, created Youth in Philanthropy, an initiative that encouraged young people to choose a cause and raise $1,000 — which NSFRE would match dollar for dollar. Since then, numerous creative programs have been launched all over the country.