Point of View: Raise generous children by encouraging philanthropy

Nestled on the bookshelf next to the Nancy Drew books and Magic, the black stuffed dog, sat three cookie tin jars in a row. In a child’s scrawled handwriting on colored construction paper, the labels read: Fun Muney, Saving Muney and Helping Muney. The young girl who resided in this room has long since set out into the world for adventures and experiences specially earmarked for the 20s. Here’s hoping she has taken this early learning in both finances and philanthropy into this wide world with her.

It is never too early to establish a healthy and creative and generous attitude toward money. It is never too early to realize that money can be used for joyful fun, saved for some important day, or to share generously from the heart with others. This early financial system we used with our daughter has set in motion an honoring of money as helpful, as something to be shared, as something to be given directly and with choice. Philanthropy can be lived in a family, in a community, in the world for the greater good of all.

Manifesting generosity and living philanthropically feels good. I know. I bore witness to my girl delivering her helping money to organizations in town over the years. My generally reserved daughter would confidently walk into the Homer Animal Shelter, meet Sherry Bess, and with a kind of quiet joy and pride, deliver $42 dollars into her hands in all kinds of denominations. She was always received with grace and kindness whenever she shared her helping money. We all know how it feels to be received with grace and kindness and we all relish those times as a lovely baseline for being human.

In those early days, I came to understand that incorporating philanthropy into my child’s life was essentially building upon her already innate sense of empathy and compassion for others. Not only did it extend a helping hand to others, it helped her to reflect inward on what was important to her. For my daughter, who loves animals and cares for their well-being, it was a natural step toward the animal shelter.

For all children, this journey of self-reflection is as enriching to the giver as it is to the receiver. What do you care about? What problem would you like to help solve? This choice and self-determination around money is a very empowering experience and becomes a direct and authentic experience of social justice and empathy.

Philanthropy is basic human goodness. It feels good. This fall where will your precious $42 dollars go? What problem would you like to help solve? Who will you confidently and joyfully walk up to and deliver your “Helping Muney?”

Kim Fine is a teacher at Fireweed Academy and a supporter of philanthropy.

Nonprofit Needs for September

Sprout Family Services is in need of sensory play items such as small plastic tubs, putty, feathers, cotton balls, sponges, chalk, crayons, beans and tiny plastic animals. Contact Mae Remme at mremme@sproutalaska.org.