Smart Money Kids / Sowing seeds of philanthropy
While April usually means showers to you, it's a good time for those in financial literacy -- it's Financial Literacy Month. And an important component of teaching our kids financial literacy is introducing them to philanthropy.
A reader came to me a few weeks ago and asked about the topic.
"Tom, we are giving allowance to our children so that they can have money in their pocket to practice," he said. "What is the best way to take that portion of that allowance our son is saving and give it away in the most effective manner?"
Here's an option. Take a look at the website www.DonorsChoose.org.
This organization was created by Charles Best, a teacher at a high school in the Bronx, in response to a scarcity of learning materials in the school. Donors Choose aims to connect people whose schools lack necessary materials with charitable-minded individuals who want to ensure that their contributions are directed to classrooms in need.
The mission of Donors Choose is to improve public education by empowering every teacher to be a change-maker and enabling any citizen to be a philanthropist. Its vision is to live in a nation where students in every community have the resources they need to learn.
Of course, like any other charity, integrity plays a large role in the branding of that program. Thus, Donor's Choose vets every classroom project for which teachers ask funding. Great care is taken to secure donor transactions using trusted technology.
The charity actually purchases and ships the materials directly to the school and lets the principal know they're on the way. And finally, it provides donors with photos of the project and letters from the students.
While I doubt Westport schools will be candidates to receive donations (although listening to budget discussions this year made me start to wonder), our community could make a big difference in directing some of our charitable giving to these worthy causes.
As for parents who want to introduce their children to philanthropy, a fun project would be to peruse the Donors Choose website to see what projects that are seeking support. Let your children choose the one that is most endearing to them. You can trade the use of your credit card for some cash from their piggy banks, and off you go.
On a side note, there's a stealthy lesson about credit cards in here, but you didn't hear that from me. Shhhhhh!
When the letters come back to your children, you can bet it will spur great dialogue and lay a foundation for the habit of giving.
Happy Financial Literacy Month. Keep those questions and comments coming.