Posted on September 27, 2011
I strongly feel that multi-generational philanthropy is an important way to secure strong family ties and build a charitable groundwork for growing children and young adults alike. The article I read about titled “The Case for Multi-Generational Philanthropy,” provides helpful tips for parents in getting their children involved and in ways that are meaningful to them so that they want to stay involved. The JCF (Jewish Communal Fund), the donor-advised fund of the Jewish community of greater New York, asks the question, “What are the most effective ways to transmit your philanthropic values to your children and grandchildren while also ensuring that your charitable legacy within the Jewish community continues to endure?”
Here are some tips for parents seeking to engage young people in philanthropy, which we believe are applicable to Jewish professionals working in the NextGen sphere, too:
- Model the engagement you would like to see. The Stern children spoke about the powerful childhood experience of going with their parents to the tarmac and watching Jews from the former Soviet Union take their first steps to freedom. “We didn’t view this as a philanthropic experience,” noted Michael Stern. “It was just our childhood.” Conducting site visits of charities or participating in a service-oriented program can serve as a powerful experience that encourages generosity.
- Enable younger people to feel the satisfaction inherent in giving. Shortly after each of their sons celebrated his Bar Mitzvah, the Sterns established donor-advised funds in their names through JCF. This charitable giving vehicle empowered the young men to recommends grants to the charities of their choosing – and experience the joy inherent in helping other people and giving to causes they believed in. “It allowed me to give in an organized fashion to charities that were meaningful to me,” Michael said. These affordable funds help our younger fund holders get into the habit of giving. Then, when they start working, they start to replenish the funds on their own or with their spouses.
- To make more significant grants, give as a group. In partnership with schools, synagogues, and youth groups like J-Teen Leadership, JCF establishes group charitable giving funds and runs the Teen Tzedakah Summit, a half-day group giving circle in which teens pool funds for charity. Teens “vet” charities focused on a specific topic (such as hunger or disaster-relief) by hearing from organizational representatives about the work that the charity does. The teens then engage in a text study around priorities in giving and learn how to use tools like GuideStar and Charity Navigator to research the charities they are considering donating to. They talk openly with one another about their values and then decide as a group how to distribute their charitable funds. The giving circle model is a powerful experiential activity that leads teens to really think about their values and evaluate the impact of their charitable dollars.
- Celebrate lifecycle events by incorporating Tzedakah. JCF offers a variety of affordable funds to help young people infuse the most joyous moments of their life with the satisfaction inherent in helping others. From Bar and Bat Mitzvah Funds and Wedding Funds to Children’s Giving Funds and NextGen Funds, linking celebrations with Tzedakah is a win-win.
- Make Jewish holidays meaningful by making a charitable grant. It’s a nice idea to create a tradition of giving as part of your holiday celebrations. This is particularly true on the eve of Rosh Hashana, as Tzedakah is one of the three paths leading to a year that is “written and sealed” for good.
At Areyvut, working with young adults is important to us. When teenagers give and become philanthropic at a young age in a way that is meaningful to them, they will both remember it and be inspired to do more chesed in the future. From these tips we can all benefit and do great things.