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Teach Your Kids to Give Well

By Allison Kooser

I’ve learned many things from my parents. How to swim, book a plane ticket, bake a pie and ride a bike. How to read and write and update a resume.

They taught me how to manage my personal finances, even when there wasn’t much to manage.

And perhaps most importantly of all, they taught me how to give.

These days, philanthropy is trendy and newsworthy and always on the cutting edge. New, effective initiatives like impact investing and holistic community development are not only changing the face of global poverty alleviation, but are making their way into college classrooms and corporate boardrooms and flooding Facebook newsfeeds.

For my generation, giving is cool.

But with so many options and initiatives available to young people today, the challenge becomes not whether to give, but how to give well. And that’s something that we don’t often teach.

It’s why we need experienced givers – experienced philanthropists – to teach us how to evaluate causes, make decisions and establish commitments to causes close to our hearts. We need to learn how to give so that our resources are used effectively. And we need to learn what it looks like to partner with an organization instead of simply writing them a check.

I am forever-grateful to my parents for teaching me these lessons so long ago. Now, as an adult myself, I feel that I have the skills to make my own philanthropic decisions. I haven’t made the exact same giving choices as my parents, but the organizations and causes I choose to support have certainly been shaped by the wisdom and insight my mom and dad imparted when I was just a kid. I look for sustainability, long-term impact and the ability to be personally involved. I choose initiatives that create ripple effects in the community, and I have a forever soft spot for anything involving education.

As I continue to learn how I want to be involved with causes that matter to me, I’m also grateful for organizations like Opportunity that create spaces specifically for people like me. People who want to be involved and educated in addition to their giving. People who are still learning the best way to utilize their skills and resources to tackle some of the world’s great challenges.

At Opportunity, the Young Ambassadors network provides an opportunity for millennials to get involved.

To meet other, like-minded young people who are passionate about similar global issues. To make a difference. Being a part of YAO has meant being a part of a community of friends doing amazing things in the fight against global poverty. It has taught me to give better, and as an added bonus, it is so much fun!

As a Young Ambassador and child of long-term Opportunity supporters, I challenge you to teach your children, friends and family how to give well. Let them know why you believe in Opportunity’s work, and let them know that there is space for them to get involved too – even with limited resources.

Share your Opportunity story and your personal giving wisdom. Teach us how to give and give well. It’s a lesson we are eager to learn.

For more information about the Young Ambassadors program, visit opportunity.org/yao

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