Youth Philanthropy: Growing the Next Generation of Givers

Hi Trista! First let me apologize – this post is late. The Council on Foundations conference ended two weeks ago and I planned on posting my highlights of this session on youth philanthropy I attended then. But right after the conference I jetted off to Baltimore for three days to attend the 4th annual Eastern Regional Conference on Afterschool. I got a little sidetracked.

For those of you who did attend the Council on Foundations conference, did you get a chance to see any of the great youth performers in the exhibit hall?

During the session I attended titled, Seeding Our Future: Growing the Next Generation of Givers, one panelist wondered if those youth were informed about the purpose of the conference and why they were there. Did they know who they were performing for? Do they know what philanthropy is? If we want to engage youth in philanthropy, we must educate them and it must start early.

The session was sponsored by The Lawrence Welk Family Foundation and highlighted best practices and programs that are engaging youth in philanthropy and how funders can support this vital movement. Panelists participating in the session were Tracy Gary, co-founder of Inspired Legacies and author of the book Inspired Philanthropy; Nora Gross, Board Member of Common Cents; and Jenny Yancey, Co-President of Youth Give.

Moderator Eric Kessler, Principal and Founder of Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors, began the session by sharing his first experience with giving. He was seven years old, on a trip with his family in Israel. His parents gave him $50 and told him to do something charitable. He then asked the audience and the panelists to share their first experiences with giving. For many, it was watching their parents and family members doing good deeds while they themselves were young. It was very evident from the audience responses that the act of giving is instilled at an early age.

So what are some ways to promote philanthropy among youth? One program highlighted during the session was the non profit organization Youth Give, whose mission is to lower the barriers for young people to give back and make a difference with their time, talent and treasure.

One way they achieve their mission is by enabling young people to have their own philanthropic giving account that puts them in the driver’s seat of giving. A parent can open a free youth account online for any amount, $1, $20 or $100. Youth then choose which non profit organizations they want to fund.

In a nutshell, the panelists stated that youth philanthropy is the wave of the future and we must invest in it now. Whether it be through including philanthropy in a school curriculum or funding organizations such as Youth Give or the Penny Harvest program, funders must ask themselves, how much are you spending to promote philanthropy to the next generation?

Panelist Jenny Yancey summed it up perfectly: "We’re all born with a giving gene, but it needs to be nurtured."

On the web:

Youth Give:
Penny Harvest: