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More Children are Budding Philanthropists

This article was written by in Charity. 3 comments.

I’ve had charity on my mind lately, and it seems to be affecting what I write about. During my normal reading, I came across a Washington Post article about what is apparently an increase in philanthropy among teenagers and younger children.

Young children and teenagers across the nation are getting involved in philanthropy more than ever, according to research and nonprofit experts, who credit new technologies with the rise of the trend. As young people increasingly become exposed to and connected with the problems of the world via the Internet and television, experts said, parents are finding new ways to instill in their children the value of giving. At the same time, technology is democratizing philanthropy so giving is not only easier for people of all ages and means, but also trendier. And children are starting to organize at the grass-roots level to give…

The scale of money children are raising through new technologies or giving away through charities is “mind-boggling,” said Lucy Bernholz, founder and president of Blueprint Research and Design, a leading consulting firm for nonprofit organizations. “It used to be the pennies we raised through UNICEF boxes, and now you’re talking about 15- and 17-year-old children who are savvy enough and committed enough to raise tens of thousands of dollars and sending it halfway around the world,” Bernholz said.

unicefThe article contains many examples of teenagers and children who are outpacing my own giving. According to the research, much of this increase in giving is driven by affluent families who include children in their charity decisions. Philanthropy isn’t just for the affluent, as I’ve discovered lately. In just the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, the pool of donors recommended over $1 billion in grants to charities last year. As I’ve written about recently, this type of fund gives smaller-time investors and “thousandaires” like me access to some of the benefits that millionaires have when they create and administer foundations.

I don’t remember knowing much about philanthropy when I was a pre-teenager. I was certainly aware of global issues; Live Aid was a major force back then. I didn’t see myself in a position to support the causes other than buying memorabilia for which proceeds went to support various charities. Thanks to technology, more opportunities for giving are available to more people.

image credit: zugaldia
For Modern Kids, ‘Philanthropy’ Is No Grown-Up Word [Washington Post]
Gift Fund Donors Set Record for Giving in 2007 [Fidelity]

Updated February 10, 2011 and originally published January 3, 2008.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

Hmm..maybe I am a bit cynical, but I tend to think they are doing it more for the social aspects than the cause itself. I remember joining in such causes back then for the “hanging out” aspects.

Of course perhaps the internet is changing all that- just look at the candidates that are enjoying great support among the younger generation – Obama and Ron Paul – they are both popular on the “internets.”

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avatar 2 Luke Landes

Ray: Even if it is for the social aspect or parental enforcement, it’s better than the alternatives. I could thnk of a lot worse things kids could do for the social aspects (harmful drugs or violent gangs, for instance). And even if it’s not the “cause” itself, just growing up in environment where giving is encouraged, they might eventually begin to appreciate the help they’re providing for whatever the issue happens to be.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

America is the most charity minded country in the world. And it’s not even close. For all the heat that America takes globally (and domestically) for our mass consumption, and rightly so, it is often a lost fact that Americans donate more charitably than any other country.

I love that being “green” has become fashionable, and charitible work and giving is following. Good stuff.

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