Puppies, passion and philanthropy

“Mommy, I choose the shelter because I love puppies!” The four of us are sitting around the table in our house here in Tulsa. A month ago, we bid farewell to family and friends in Lelystad and moved our belongings to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

We’re participating in Givt’s five-day generosity challenge because we want to teach our children the habit of generosity. It’s an experiment we’re doing with a few American families as well because we also want to learn the effects of setting a family goal.

On the first day, the task was to share with each other our personal motivation for giving and to talk about what we find important, what we care about. Our eight-year-old daughter eagerly participated, but our twelve-year-old son wasn’t interested. He couldn’t relate to the question and gave up on it. Still, it was special to sit together at the table and listen to what motivates each other. “I give because it’s fun to give, and I also like to receive things, so others must like it too,” came from a child’s mouth. It was also good to pause and reflect on my own motivations: I give because I believe it’s important to show that I care about something and because I hope it makes a difference.

Now we had arrived at day two, and as a family, we had to choose a goal. Based on our interests, three different charities were presented to us. The challenge was to choose what we, as a family, deemed important, but our individual preferences quickly emerged. It was quite a task to come to a family goal because my heart goes out to sick children, my husband believes it’s important that everyone’s basic needs are met, and our daughter loves puppies. Our son suggested that we pitch our choices. Each of us took turns arguing why we found a particular goal important, and our daughter even got a chance to do it a second time. Ultimately, we decided to support two charities as a family this week.

Next, we negotiated how much we would like to donate and who would give how much of their pocket money to the charity. After much haggling, our daughter decided to part with five, or no, actually three dollars for the shelter, and our son wanted to give seven and a half dollars so that the amount wasn’t a nice round figure. As parents, we added a bit more, and we found a challenging goal for this week.

I am proud. Proud of my children who want to participate in this challenge, who come up with creative solutions when we don’t initially agree, who want to give their own pocket money to support these goals, and who eagerly anticipate tomorrow’s challenge. 

I see it as a beautiful first step on the road to generosity.

“Mommy, if I give three dollars of my pocket money, can I also get a puppy?”

We still have a long way to go.

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