Inspiring Generosity


Inspiring Children and Young Adults to Give

     Here's hoping you get a flower soon!    timkraaijvanger@pixabay

Those of us who have been around little kids know they have hearts made to give. You know this if you’ve ever been a beneficiary of a

  • Dandelion bouquet,
  • Masterful piece of “art,”
  • Macaroni necklace,
  • Sweet surprise note, or a
  • Hug “just because.”

You know that children can and want to be generous.
But how do you help children translate that inclination of kindness to becoming financial givers as they get older?
It’s been a while since we’ve looked at ways to increase generosity in children. And it’s not because it’s not important, because it most definitely is.
I immediately think of the opening lines of that Whitney Houston classic,
“I believe the children are the future – teach them well and let them show the way…”
And it’s true.  If we don’t teach kids – or better yet – give them opportunities to give, how will they know that financial gifts make a difference in the lives of so many people?
I sat in on a webinar the other day about Donor Advised Funds (DAF). Some of you know what DAFs are (that may be for another blog post) but the presenter, Tony Oommen, a VP for Fidelity Charitable, mentioned how he encouraged his child, who was graduating from high school, to give. In addition to a traditional graduation gift, he and his wife also gave their child $500 to be given away to any non-profit or non-profits of their child’s choice. Wow.
Obviously, not everyone has $500 to give as a gift. But maybe you can balance physical birthday gifts with an additional gift of money for them to give to someone else. Part of the fun is that, depending on their age, you can help them make the gift and you can experience the joy of giving with them.
Way back in the day, we had our kids save money in their “to give” bank. At the end of the year, they would carefully write out a check (that we would sign) and drop their donation off in the mail. If this was today, we’d sit down at the computer and send the donation electronically. At one point, my daughter Rachel was such a regular donor to Make-A-Wish Oregon that she was considered (for her income…which was meager) to be one of their top donors. Shout out to Make-A-Wish for recognizing the “Widow’s Mite” gift.
How about a giving box in Sunday School rooms? I’ve heard stories from my elders about how they remember putting a dime or a quarter – lo those many years ago – in the Sunday School offering and what an impact that had on them. If you don’t do this now, maybe it’s time to bring the offering box back to your classroom. At the end of the year, the children or youth can choose what church ministry will benefit from their generosity.
And while you’re at it, whether you are a parent, grandparent, Sunday School teacher or a non-familial Auntie or Uncle, be sure to openly talk about why you give and the spiritual reasons for giving.
I love that kids have such open hearts, don’t you?
Kids learn from you. They are watching. They are listening. Teach them well and let them show the way.

 Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. For 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she has helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. Check out this eight-year-old singing, The Greatest Love. Ah-mazing. You can reach Cesie at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.com


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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.