How to teach your children to be philanthropists

By | March 27, 2017

Many parents want their children to grow up to be philanthropic.

The hard part is knowing when—and how—to start instilling a sense of philanthropy in them.

Experts in the world of philanthropy offer several approaches.

But there is a consensus that it’s important to start talking to children about philanthropy early in their lives and continue to have those discussions as they grow.

The Wall Street Journal invited three people to join in an email discussion of the issue. They are Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm, professor of economics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and professor of philanthropic studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy; Una Osili, professor of economics and director of research at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy; and Alison Powell, senior director, philanthropy, at the Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit consulting group for philanthropists.

Parents should make sure that their children “see” that their giving is a regular part of their life, and engage the children in conversations about why they (the parents) give.
Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm, professor of economics
Following are edited excerpts of the discussion.

Alison Powell: Embedded in philanthropy is often the concept of empathy, a critical social and emotional skill. Ultimately, if parents value philanthropy and wish to support empathy development in their children, it is likely they will want to pass this value on to their children.

At its heart, giving money away is an “unnatural act.” It’s possible (and if my kids are any example, likely) that encouraging kids to give away their own money and toys may be met with initial resistance without relevant context, modeling and reinforcement.

Read more here