Charitable donations

Encouraging our children to give back.

Every December my husband and I remind our daughters that if they donate money to non-profit organizations or causes, we will match their gifts. The holiday season feels like the right time to encourage the practice of charitable giving. In a time of receiving, whether in the form of a hearty meal, a coveted present, or a holiday bonus, we aim to reinforce the importance of giving. We find that the offer to match their gifts encourages their giving.

It is interesting to learn which non-profit organizations our children support. They consistently give to the alma maters they loved and thrived in, as well as organizations such as The New York Women’s Foundation and the ACLU. My eldest shared with me her method of choosing among the many worthy causes out there: she gives where she feels she is spiritually nourished. For her, this includes two environmental organizations, the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, which work to protect animals and nature, along with organizations that support women’s health and social justice. These causes align with her personal priorities and values.

As a family, we have been fortunate to be in a position to make donations to organizations and causes that matter to us. We encourage our daughters to give in the way they are able, whether money, time, or simply generosity of spirit. In the past, we have adopted a less fortunate family to buy Christmas presents for and volunteered at a local soup kitchen. Giving of oneself is just as meaningful as, if not more impactful than, giving of one’s means.

If charitable giving is an important value in your family, offer to match your children’s gifts of money or time. It’s an effective way to reinforce the importance of philanthropy and a wonderful time of year to practice generosity. The amount of the donation is not important, since our children are on tight budgets. It’s the act that counts, and offering to match the amount gives it even more impact.

Note: We’ve been advised that, if you make your donations at year–end, there is still time to give for 2017. Date the check 12/31/17 and get it in the mail immediately, and all will be well! To be absolutely certain, double check with your accountant or tax advisor.