Don't Give Money To Your Kids
I’ve been reading more stories about teaching philanthropy to kids by handing them funds to give away. One article had a well-meaning foundation settling $100,000 on a group of college students and challenging them to figure out the best way to dispense the money. The amounts are all over the map but the assumption is the same: If we give kids our money and help create a structure they will learn to give. For instance,
Students in a new philanthropy course in the University of Virginia's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy awarded $100,000 in grants to seven Charlottesville-area nonprofits.The grant funding was provided by the Once Upon A Time Foundation to encourage students to think about philanthropy, said the course instructor, Paul Martin, Batten's director of professional development and a former chair of the City of Charlottesville's Community Development Block Grant Task Force. The 28 students, representing 17 majors from across the University, spent the semester deciding how to award this $100,000 – acting, in effect, like a miniature private philanthropic foundation, Martin said. Starting on the first day of class with 46 letters of inquiry from local charities, the students did research, site visits, interviews and other due diligence to whittle the field to seven organizations that work on poverty alleviation and youth development. "We quickly all learned that giving away money is difficult," said Mary Kate Steinbeck, a fourth-year sociology major in in the College of Arts & Sciences. "Especially when you have 30 different voices of passion coming into the class with different ideas of how best to spend it."
I would suggest what the foundation taught the students was not how to be personal givers but how to be what we call a “philanthropoid” – and those are two different skills. That is why I always argue for parents and well-intentioned people to match the giving of kids and students rather than give them their money to, as the article says, “spend”. Unfortunately and sadly, this kind of giving almost inevitably ends up teaching more spending habits than giving skills.
|Paul Penley||May 17, 2012, 4:24 pm|
|Agree. We watched a corporation allocate the corporate foundation money to each employee to give. We couldn't tell if the program encouraged employees to think about giving or actually reduced their giving because they could send someone else's money to their favorite charities. Having kids give away their parents money methodically can train them to become a family foundation director, i.e. professional foundation staff, but it does not train them to be philanthropists.|