At our recent annual gala, Kaitlin Leas, Bret’s 13-year-old daughter, spoke about her experience with philanthropy. “It’s about making sure that we all take care of each other," she said. "My dad shows us what matters to him because he wants us to grow up with a sense of hopefulness – and to make a commitment to making a difference.” Both Kaitlin and her siblings, Jamie and George, have grown up watching their family raise money for our cause, and have continued to follow in their footsteps.
School-aged children are at a critical stage of learning in all areas, including philanthropy. Marilyn Price Mitchell, a developmental psychologist, found that even through giving in small amounts, children learn about being a better citizen and how to collectively make a difference.
Not only does philanthropic giving provide the necessary resources for the communities being served, it has also been proven to increase happiness for those who give. Bret Leas notes, “Wishes have the power to make us all better than we were. They make us want to give whatever we can. We need to make them happen.”
The power of a wish is cyclical. It brings joy to those who give, those who receive, and to all those involved in the process. A Nature Communications study, in which participants were given a weekly stipend and told to either spend it on themselves or on others, found that the group who gave to others reported higher levels of happiness at the end of the trial than those who spent the money on themselves. A second aspect of the study also reported that happiness increased independently of how much was given, meaning that no matter how little was given, participants still felt happier after doing so.
So, what can you do to help your kids become happier, better philanthropists?
One way to promote philanthropy among your children is to create a family donation box, or have your kids create a “giving jar” to place a portion of their choosing from their allowance.
You and your family can also participate in events such as walks, runs, the Long Beach Polar Bears Super Bowl Splash, and other fundraisers. Or you can start your own fundraiser!
Some of the unique fundraising events that have been created to support Make-A-Wish® include bowling tournaments, holiday lighting displays, donating your birthday, Zumba® events and many others. Even small donations make a difference - to everyone!