This past week, I experienced one of those moments in the life of every parent where I realized that the advice, admonishments and, ultimately, values I strive to instill in my child might have actually stuck.
My child is the son of two parents who are deeply connected to the charitable world and philanthropy – one by vocation and both by avocation. As such, throughout all of his 18 years, my child has been on the receiving end of my wife’s and my shared experiences trying to impact the world in a positive way. Between volunteer experiences and opportunities to gift money for charitable causes and to nonprofit organizations, my wife and I have never been sure that our son fully appreciated the importance of giving back and making a difference.
Well, our son turned 18 on December 6. He was fortunate to receive many good wishes and gifts from family and friends near and far. On December 7, after reflecting on his new-found good fortune, my son said to me, “Dad, I want to take a lot of the cash gifts I’m getting and buy new toys to give to little kids during the Holidays.”
Of course I was delighted by his unprompted desire to donate. I thought about how many times my wife and I tried to express to him the joy and satisfaction we felt in giving back, and the obligation we knew we had to give to those in need.
What struck me is that a parent can never overstate or overemphasize to his or her kids, extended families and networks how important it is to support the causes and nonprofits we care so passionately about. At the end of the day, something DOES stick when you share your philanthropic passion and purpose regularly and consistently over time with great enthusiasm.
So as you consider how to give those philanthropic dollars and as you donate your valuable time at the end of this year, don’t forget to bring your children, family and friends into the process. Keep them involved throughout the year. You will be paying it forward through the next generation and all the succeeding generations to come.