Phil's Gift Box: Passing Philanthropy On
As we continue our month-long profile of YPII, the Youth Philanthropy Initiative of Indiana, I’m really pretty excited to have gotten to this week. For all of our attention to best practices in philanthropy, fundraising, strategic grantmaking, and all the rest, those of us who care about the philanthropic sector have another preoccupation: to whom will we pass the torch? Are the generations coming after us going to step into leadership when it’s time, with their own lights and their own creative energy? And how can we help foster human beings who are willing to invest their own time, talent, and treasure for the common good?
Friends and neighbors in philanthropy, I’d like to introduce you to Phil.
Phil is your key to introducing a philanthropic lifestyle to children and young people. And Phil is making a difference.
Phil is the main character in a rich resource box created by YPII. The folks at YPII have paid attention to the research that shows us over and over again that the most effective way for young people to adopt a particular value system is to be mentored into it by practicioners, particularly members of their own family, but also by committed adults in their lives. So for parents who love the idea of modeling a philanthropic lifestyle for their children but aren’t sure where to start, for teachers wanting to introduce a generous worldview to students, for community leaders who want to invest in the next generation of selfless leaders, Phil’s Gift Box provides the tools to get started.
The box is full of terrific resources – a graphic novel, telling the adventures of Phil Anthropy and his friends. Giving Circle tokens to pass on along with acts of kindness. A deck of playing cards that introduce key concepts, like “mentor,” “volunteer,” and “share.” A Family Philanthropy Pledge that can be signed by all members of the family and clipped to the refrigerator. A stack of conversation starter cards that I can imagine using on a car ride, at the dinner table, or on the way to school to introduce interactions about giving in various ways.
My favorite two resources in the Box, however, are a stack of creative activity cards (the activities align with stories from the graphic novel) and a set of monthly ideas that can also be displayed on a bulletin board or refrigerator. The activity cards include things like a Saturday morning “reverse treasure hunt,” in which the family members gather a list of items, have thirty minutes to assemble everything on the list, and then take the items to a nonprofit of their choice, instructions to set up a giving circle, and instructions to make a “spend, save, share” bank.
The monthly cards are crafted to hit seasonal highlights and holidays (Earth Day is in April, for example, May is Family Month, and November is an ideal time to talk about the responsibilities of U.S. citizenship), and each card includes both a one-word topical highlight (Mentor! Lead! Give!) and a short list of ways in which a family could enact that word.
We have the opportunity to be as intentional about our “development” of the next generation as we are about our development work on other fronts. Phil’s Gift Box and the resources at YPII give us the tools we need to help ensure that our work matters to generations to come – not just through the projects and initiatives we are able to fund into the future, but through the generous hearts of young leaders who will be ready to take their places in the ongoing, ever-evolving work of philanthropy.