There is nothing more important than the time we spend with the ones we love. Nothing more precious than the memories we create together. And so, as families — as busy, growing, constantly changing families — we’re always looking for opportunities to truly share our lives with each other.
At the Omaha Community Foundation, we work with hundreds of families on charitable projects, and we’ve observed something remarkable happen again and again: When families spend time together giving, the quality of the time itself changes. Philanthropy is a sort of alchemy. It makes the hours you spend together feel more real, more personal. It makes them matter. Which makes sense, when you think about it…
Coming together to give means coming together to share. When you decide as a family what issues you care about, which causes are closest to your hearts, you can’t help but get to know each other better.
It’s immediate, the reward of family philanthropy.
For parents of younger children, it’s a way to instill generosity and responsibility. For older children, it’s an opportunity to establish their identities, to assert themselves in the family dynamic.
You can teach your children the importance — and rewards — of giving as soon as they’re old enough to have a piggy bank. Try giving them a charitable allowance, money that they get to set aside and save for a cause that they care about. Or allow them to donate their time or small possessions. You might be surprised by the issues that inspire them.
Our year-round platform, OmahaGives.org, is an easy way to get started with your kids. There are around 1,000 local nonprofits listed for you and your children to search through. Prompting kids with questions – What are your favorite activities? Where do you like to have fun? Do you want to help other kids? – are great ways to connect them with causes and organizations.
Maybe the local animal shelter or wildlife rescue inspires children that love animals. Perhaps they spend time at local museums or theaters. Youth that love to read might want to ensure that other kids learn to read and have access to books. On OmahaGives.org, they can read about how an organization helps people or animals or other kids or the community. They can flip through photos and even watch videos – all in one place. And then donate to that nonprofit – as little as $10 – through the website.
After that initial donation, continuing to stay connected to giving and nonprofits can become a year-round activity. Small events — lemonade stands, garage sales, spring cleaning — can take a charitable turn. Even your leisure time can be spent in a way that contributes to the greater good; purchasing a family membership to a museum, theater, or nature area is a contribution you can enjoy together.
Last year, we learned about a little girl who set up a lemonade stand during Berkshire Hathaway and sold refreshments to visitors in her neighborhood. She then used those funds to donate during Omaha Gives to her favorite nonprofits. We are so inspired by her entrepreneurship and generosity!
Like her, your children’s unique character will express itself through giving. These charitable acts quickly become traditions, an ongoing way for families to connect.
Inviting your children to join in our community’s charitable holiday, Omaha Gives, is a great way to start a new tradition in your family. Celebrate our local nonprofits and let your kids experience one of the most fulfilling parts of life – giving to others.
You can give today on OmahaGives.org or wait to join the fun on May 22nd – the annual community-wide celebration.