As a mom, one of my life goals is raise good humans. My legacy and my husband’s legacy will largely be defined by how well we prepare Tommy and Lucy to contribute meaningfully to the world.
For the last few years, we have been bringing Tommy and Lucy to events associated with our volunteer commitments and asked them to consider valuing what we value. We have recently applied to a beautiful school that would represent an opportunity for them to begin to really sort through social issues and consequences for themselves and begin to chart their own agenda for giving back and building community based on what they value. The school features events dedicated to discussing race relations, LGBTQ issues, and gender equity and will provide both Tommy and Lucy with a forum that is absent from their current school environment, and that extends far beyond what we as parents can offer them. Lucy is opinionated and compassionate, and she would benefit from and contribute to these meaningful community gatherings. Tommy is laid back and kind, and the quiet strength of his character will help him facilitate difficult conversations now and into the future.
In my role as a board member for Philanthropy Miami, I prepared a blog post about women in philanthropy. Part of my research led me to the Indiana University Women’s Philanthropy Institute (IUWPI), and in my role as a parent, I found one of their recent studies to be particularly valuable. It will inform the activities and conversations in our home, immediately.
In the study, Women Give 2018, the team at IUWPI wondered about the connection between how and how much parents give to charity and how and how much their children give (as adults) to charity. The lessons for me, as Tommy’s and Lucy’s mom:
- Parental frequency of giving matters most for daughters.
- The two specific behaviors of role-modeling philanthropy and talking about philanthropy are both essential. Talking about giving has a greater impact than just modeling the behavior. However, role modeling is more powerful for daughters as they are more likely to volunteer as adults than sons.
- When parents give to charity, children are more likely to give to charity. 80% of adult children whose parents give become contributors.
As a mom, we will continue to volunteer regularly, as soon as social distancing requirements allow for it. Today, actually tonight at dinner, we will begin to talk about our giving and our volunteering regularly. It makes me feel like there is something I can do today–my personal call to action, when we cannot really be in action as volunteers.
For my clients and my friends who lead charitable organizations, this is what I would recommend to them, based on the Women Give 2018 study.
The Non-Profit Leader’s Call to Action:
- Deliver multi-generational programming. Think volunteer programs that involve elementary, middle and high school children.
- Invest in conversations about values and community for college students and those who have recently graduated. This is a long-term strategy that will achieve major, principal and planned giving goals over time.
We are all in this together–both at the dinner table and in the community. There is not a lot we can do in person today–so that we can keep the most vulnerable populations safe. But we can do this.