A Back-To-School Plan For Family Philanthropy

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By Louise Mulherin, PR manager, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

When I was growing up, back-to-school time meant a new start and fresh new school supplies. It also meant the end of unscheduled days on the beach or fishing with my family, and getting back into the routine of alarm clocks, a school uniform and homework.

Families across our region are making these same adjustments and replacing relaxed weekends with sports and extra-curricular activities. Many families also mark this time of year by planning how to incorporate volunteer time and charitable giving into their schedules.

The good news about a family philanthropy plan is that you can design it however you wish and in a way that suits the time and resources you have to give. Here are some tips we use to help our Community Foundation donor families design their own plan:

  • Talk about what’s important to you as a family, and let everyone take a turn – even the littlest ones will have something to share.
  • Share ideas about how you could help make your community a better place. Is your wish that all stray animals have a loving home? Do you want to help make sure all families have enough good food to eat?
  • The start of a new school year is a great time to collect gently-used books, toys or clothes your children have outgrown and donate them to a local nonprofit that serves families.
  • Seek opportunities to give back as a family through your house of worship, community center or local nonprofit organization. They may have on-going events or programs that you can participate in without much planning or effort. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

Any back-to-school effort includes a reading list! Here are some books that can help you introduce the idea of giving back as a family:

  • Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Peña
  • The Kids Guide to Service Projects, by Barbara A. Lewis
  • I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
  • The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More, by Bruce Feiler

Want to be sure the nonprofit you’ve chosen to give to will be a good steward of your contribution? Checkout our Checklist for Giving: Nonprofit Best Practices online.

This story originally appeared in the Saporta Report.