Lessons From Ruby: Raising Charitable (Grand)kids
If you watch Good Morning America regularly1, or are an avid Facebook user, you may have stumbled across Ruby Kate Chitsey by now. Her story has gone a bit viral. Ruby is an amazing 11-year old whose story connected deeply with me, not just because I also have an almost 11-year old, but because I’m willing to bet Ruby’s generosity was a learned behavior from her mother (and other positive influences). And as Ruby shows us, it’s not just giving of our dollars, it can be giving of our time too. It’s a big part of Desiree and my lives, and we hope that filters down to our kids. Because giving can bring a fuller life, not just to those who receive our gifts and time, but for us, who give as well! Here’s Ruby’s story:
Ruby’s mother, Amanda, is a nurse practitioner in a nursing home facility. Consequently, Ruby spends a lot of time there. She began visiting many of the lonely residents and out of curiosity started asking them what three things in the world they wish they had right now. The wishes weren’t for cars or homes or money. In fact, she found that in many cases, she could grant these simple wishes! Soon Ruby was organizing efforts to bring fresh fruit to the nursing home, purchase pants that fit, arrange visits from pets, etc. Her big heart and worthy cause have garnered widespread support and brought pure joy to many of the residents!
I feel very fortune to work for many people who are extremely generous. Many also have kids or grandkids that I hope will follow in their footsteps. As I thought about my kids, I began thinking about the habits Desiree and I can teach them. So, within the context of financial planning, here are 4 things that come to mind for those of you with (grand)kids – the next generation of givers!
- Get them started - Most adults have a budget for giving, whether they know it or not. Weekly giving to the church is one easy example. Make your (grand)kids a part of that act of giving and help them understand why you feel it’s important to give. Go through your financial plan again and consider providing them with a small budget, so they get a taste of how it feels to give to others.
- Do something together –Bring them along to charitable activities that you perform. I will have my older two help stuff Easter eggs for the Optimist Easter Egg hunt in a couple weeks. Or volunteer at the food bank, sing carols at the nursing home, etc.
- Talk about giving – Share where and how much you like to give to charitable causes. Help them understand the finances of those organizations and what it means to raise those funds. As they get older, talk about the impacts for you as well; whether that’s tax deductions, adjustments to income taxes due, or broader estate planning objectives you may have.
- Go big with a Donor Advised Fund – If you feel willing/able to do more, consider creating a family Donor Advised Fund. Make a lump sum gift to the fund and involve the (grand)kids in the process of choosing recipients every year. Donor Advised Funds can be a simple, cost effective way to manage this type of giving process and formalize and cement a legacy.
There are many good, responsible financial lessons we should try to teach the next generation about budgeting and saving. Giving habits and priorities should be on that list too. Giving habits experienced during childhood will affect how they give back as an adult. So let’s help our (grand)kids grow into generous adults!