After reading “Empowering Young Children Through Philanthropy,” in this month’s AFP magazine Advancing Philanthropy, I spent some time thinking about the possibility and power of this concept. My Curtis Group colleagues and I do a lot of speaking to fundraising professionals, community leaders, and boards. The most frequent questions we hear from these interactions are about fundraising leadership: “How do we engage our board more in fundraising,” “How are we going to replace the few older, actively engaged volunteers we have?” and “Where is the next generation of leaders?”
As we have often said, “Effective fundraising boards don’t just happen; they are built and developed – strategically.” Let’s think about the people you’d like to have as your future fundraising leaders – people who care about their community, are passionate about your mission, and believe in giving, but are also busy building their careers, raising children and are spending less time serving on boards than their parents and grandparents did. They are, however, committed to raising more socially aware children – they want children to understand and find solutions for the needs and challenges of their communities.
Why not cultivate future leaders through their children, involving them in your organization with their kids? AFP’s new PhilanthroKids initiative, discussed in the Advancing Philanthropy article, aims to empower children as young as 3 by teaching 10 principal values of philanthropy – kindness, honesty, respect, openness, generosity, gratitude, sympathy, empathy, responsibility and trustworthiness.
What could you do at your organization to put these 10 principal values of philanthropy in action to involve future leaders with their children? Here are four ways to engage the next generations.
1. Use existing programs to educate, engage and inspire children about philanthropy – Incorporate the 10 principal values of philanthropy into your summer camp programs, your after-school tutoring, your art classes, your school field trips, your volunteer opportunities, and your table displays.
2. Expand your volunteer opportunities –Find ways that families can serve your organization together and ways that children can contribute to your work and your mission. Find ways to involve younger kids – their parents are looking for fun and educational ways to keep them active while at the same time teaching them something important.
3. Create a “kids club” – Recognize children who contribute to your organization; feature them in your social media posts, your printed materials, your newsletters.
4. Invite the children and grandchildren of your board members to participate – Host a board meeting where your board members can bring their children, involve them in the discussion, demonstrate their role in the organization and how critical it is to be involved and not sit on the side lines.
As I’ve tried to show my sons what philanthropy means, I’ve learned along with them. One wants to give to organizations addressing hunger, so he’s given a part of his allowance to the local Foodbank; we’ve toured the Foodbank, and conducted food drives. One son is more interested in cleaning up our local river, so in addition to his giving, we’ve participated in shoreline restoration volunteer projects.As you educate and inspire the next generation, I believe you will discover new families ready to invest in your mission, while also reinvigorating those currently involved.
Seeing things through a child’s eyes can open the eyes of their parents and grandparents too. And while involving them, you’re cultivating two generations of future leaders at once.
I’d love to hear how you’re cultivating the next generation of leaders alongside their children. firstname.lastname@example.org