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Family Philanthropy

How to teach philanthropy to young children

Kids playing at sink with dad

Teaching kids to be generous starts as early as toddlerhood

How do you teach philanthropy to kids? Start with one simple thought, says professional philanthropic advisor Colleen Mitchell, founder and principal of VENTURE3Philanthropy. “Everyone has something to give. Everyone has something unique to share.” If you want to raise philanthropic children, she explains, the key is teaching them to be not only aware of others’ needs, but also in tune with their own unique abilities to give and share.

Picture a toddler’s favorite stuffed bear, the one he never sleeps without. That bear is his greatest source of comfort. When his older sister falls off the swing and he immediately offers her his little stuffed bear, that’s an act of generosity. But it’s more than just providing an item of comfort to another in need. “It’s the precursor to empathy,” Mitchell says. “It’s an inner wellspring that feeds a generous heart.”

Teaching kids to be generous involves understanding their unique gifts and matching those to the needs of the world around them. Money often helps, but sometimes the answer is about being a friend.

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