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Family Giving: Jenny Friedman | Susan C. Price | David Lockhart | Mary Coleman

by Susan C. Price,

Managing Director,

Family Foundation Services,

Council on Foundations

Charity Checks Giving Certificates are useful tools for parents and grandparents interested in encouraging kids to consider their community's needs and how they can help. By giving the gift of a Charity Check, you give a child an opportunity to think about organizations they could help and make a choice about the one they care about the most. It's a great way to start conversations with the next generation about the importance of contributing to society and making a difference in the world.

Here's one example of a family activity in philanthropy that could easily be adapted to include Charity Checks Giving Certificates:

Holding a Dinner Table Foundation Meeting

What you'll need: an easel or pad of newsprint, markers, memo pads and pencils for each family member, mailings requesting donations, play money (optional).

 1. Decide in advance of the meeting what amount your family will give to charity.

 2. If your children are young, you should also pre-determine how funding decisions will be made (e.g., each family member picks his or her own charities, the family votes on them as a group, or a combination of the two methods). If your children are older, they may want to participate in devising the plan.

 3. Set the time and place for the family meeting. At that time, turn off the TV, let the answering machine catch your phone calls, etc. so you aren't interrupted by distractions.

 4. On the top of the easel or large pad, post the amount of money you plan to have the family allocate to charity.

 5. Explain how the decisions will be made.

 4. List the preferences of each family member on the pad.

 5. Use the play money to help the kids visualize how the money could be divided among the chosen charities.

 6. Vote on which organizations to fund and in what amounts.

 7. Let the kids help you write the checks.

 Note: When your children are very young, keep the meeting brief (20 minutes for kindergartners) and limit the choices of charities to three or four that are likely to appeal to them (e.g., the local animal shelter). Don't focus on the amounts to be given until they are old enough to understand money.

 Susan Crites Price, author of The Giving Family, Raising Your Children to Help Others, (Council on Foundations, 2003)

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