Teaching Children Philanthropy

Teaching Children Philanthropy
December 15, 2015 North Jersey Marketing

Ask Lourdes

Volume 2 Issue 12

Teaching Children Philanthropy

By Lourdes Cortez

When most folks think philanthropy, there are two thoughts that come to mind. The first is that you need vast wealth and make donations in the thousands. And the second is, which charities would inspire my family and I to make the world a better place.

It doesn’t take a super wealthy family or hefty bank account to help make a difference and improve the world. For many of us, being philanthropic could be as simple as a Christmas gift to the local food pantry or volunteering with the Girl Scouts.

According to Dictionary.com, philanthropy is defined as “concern for human welfare and advancement, usually manifested by donations of money, property, or work to needy persons, by endowment of institutions of learning and hospitals, and by generosity to other socially useful purposes.”

In all fairness, that means we can all be philanthropic in our own ways and we can pass down those values to our children.

We can begin by showing our children the importance of volunteering. Many local charities in your communities have volunteer programs including short-term projects that you and your children can participate in. For example, you can organize a book drive for young children in a preschool or those residing in a transitional living facility. Or you and your children can “Adopt A Family”, collect toys and clothes from friends and family members, and donate these items to that family in need.

There are many ways to cultivate volunteerism and show your concern for the betterment of others. For instance, demonstrating examples of hands-on giving is a perfect initial step in teaching the importance and rewards of charity. You can begin by helping your child choose which gently-used toys, books, or clothes to give away, talk to him/her about where these items are going, and, if feasible, take him/her with you to donate the items.

Volunteering is a crucial part of philanthropy, since this is how families can become actively involved together. Volunteering allows for a sense of accountability, forms positive habits and allows families to create traditions and meaningful experiences. Many organizations create volunteer opportunities not only for individual or corporate groups, but for families as well.

Another alternative to volunteering is donating money.   But, how do we teach our children the values of charitable contributions?

For many, giving can help reduce your tax liability because contributions to a non-profit organization are tax-

deductible. As a family, begin the discussion by agreeing to what you can afford to give and what you may need to donate to compliment your tax bracket. Next, talk about your favorite causes with your children and why you are interested. Sharing your charitable passions with your children can be influential especially explaining what you do to support these causes. During your discussions, children will begin to realize that they too feel passionate about certain causes and issues.

While establishing a sense of philanthropy, you can also teach your children financial responsibility. When you reward your children with money for good grades, or a job well done with their chores, you can teach them how to incorporate philanthropy by setting aside three amounts of money for spending, saving and giving. Make it a habit to put money into all three jars. And when they have enough to give to a charity of choice, ask them what interests them.

Children often show interest in a cause based on their likes and their involvement in groups, sports or extracurricular activities. An example of this is a car wash day at the high school or bake sale at your child’s dance studio. As children become older, parents can match these interests as a means to incorporate philanthropy.

As a family, you can discuss ideas and opinions that will create a philanthropic plan or you can organize volunteer opportunities. In addition to volunteering or giving as a family, there are other tools you can use to create a legacy. Donor-advised funds are becoming more common and facilitate the giving process. A donor-advised fund provides a flexible solution to donating to various causes and also provides the tax benefits of charitable giving. These funds ensure that donors support charities, take advantage of tax benefits and create a sense of pride for their families. For more information about these types of accounts visit www.cfnj.org.

Over the past few years, philanthropy, community service and charitable giving have become increasingly more popular. A new initiative which began in 2012 is #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. The idea is that #GivingTuesday uses the potential of social media to trigger giving, resulting in real change in many communities throughout the world. In 2015, 71 countries participated in #GivingTuesday raising over $116 million dollars due in part to over 1.3 million mentions on social media. Check out www.givingtuesday.org.

Inspiring and educating children about charitable values and financial education can be invaluable to families. Setting a plan and involving your children in decision-making are all great steps to teaching philanthropy to your children. This journey of generosity can help build a lasting family legacy, one that your children can then pass on to their children.


Lourdes Cortez began her professional banking career in 1984, at North Jersey Federal Credit Union (North Jersey Federal), as a representative and progressing through several positions before becoming CEO in 2005. In the past 10 years, North Jersey Federal’s assets have steadily grown from $171 million to $233 million, which is attributed to an emphasis on increasing commercial accounts that grew from 15% to 32% over the last 5 years. As the first Latina CEO of a major credit union in NJ, not only has Lourdes’ stewardship increased the assets of North Jersey Federal, but her commitment to serving a diverse community also contributed to its growth. North Jersey Federal is cited as the first financial institution in NJ to offer Islamic banking and Islamic banking products and one of the first of its kind to launch websites to be viewed in both English and Spanish. As CEO, Lourdes crystalized the credit union’s community involvement with an initiative called “Operation Share & Care” that later became the North Jersey Federal Credit Union Foundation. Examples of the foundations work include building a student-run credit union in Paterson High School. Other organizations that have received support from the foundation include, Autism Radio, the Boys & Girls Club, Eva’s Village, the Marines Care Organization and the Boy and Girl Scouts.
Lourdes has been honored by NJ Biz magazine, as one of the Best 50 Women in Business in NJ; North Jersey Regional Chamber of Commerce 2010 Star Award in Business; the 2010 Salute to the Policy Makers Award from Executive Women of NJ; and the 2012 Women of Achievement Award from the Girl Scouts of Northern NJ. Recently, Lourdes was appointed to serve on the Board of Trustees of William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ.