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Living and Giving:

Stories And Causes You Care About

How to Spend $100,000 on Prom

By Contributor Posted on May 10, 2017

Giving. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Frankly, it’s something we learn to do. Babies are not innately generous. We as a species have to take care of our own needs first, as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs teaches. So giving is something that we have to learn to do.

A Legacy of Giving is an organization here in Austin that has a mission to teach giving to children. Specifically, their mission is to “empower children through philanthropy education and youth philanthropy programs to become more engaged in improving their communities and world.” At a recent meeting with them at Thunderbird coffee over on the East Side, we were discussing all the different ways to teach our local youth the importance of giving. I couldn’t help but see things through my own eyes, and suggested that Encast could set up Charitable Giving Accounts for every student in their program as a way for their participants to learn about giving back. (Full disclosure, Encast is my employer.)

A Charitable Giving Account is a nicer-sounding version of what is officially called a Donor Advised Fund (What a name! Please, don’t fall asleep but if you like to nerd out, read more about them here).

Encast has a platform called MyHERO that allows individuals to deposit money into their personal Charitable Giving Account and then use that account to give to any non-profit organization in America, at a time that is convenient for them. So you can sock away money now to give away later, to whomever you choose, when you choose.

Since we all know that some kids are too busy goofing around to care about changing the world, perhaps every kid having an account like this is too much to ask. But what about one per class? Imagine…The Central High Class of 2021 Charitable Giving Account.

If over the next 4 years, each of the 250 children in the Central High Class of 2021 was able to raise an average of $100 through bake sales, car washes, popcorn sales, book fairs, gift wrap sales, field days, donut sales, fool’s days (you get the picture) per year, then by the time they were ready to graduate as seniors, they would have raised $100,000 (250 students x $100 x 4 years = $100,000). That is a tremendous sum to give away! How many of us will give that much away in our lifetime?

To whom would they give all that dough? Well, they could give it away proportionally to causes they vote on! Who wants to help animals? Hands up! OK. 25% of you. Who wants to help fight breast cancer, in honor of Billy’s mom? Hands up! OK. 60% of you. What’s that, Robert? Ferrets? OK. 1% of the money will go to the Ferret Rescue Foundation. So it can be given to many different causes, in different amounts, but nevertheless, to causes that mean something to everyone in the Central High Class of 2021! Now THAT’S how you teach kids to give!

Can you picture the kids in their blue tuxedos and frilly dresses all gathered around in the gym looking at a big screen projecting their Charitable Giving Account from a laptop? Can you picture their list of causes that they chose? Can you picture the $100,000 balance on the screen?

Then, with a countdown from 10 to 0, they could anticipate the feeling of giving that money all away, to causes they chose as a class. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-Hooray! Then they press a button on the computer that sends all that money to charity.

So when you tell people that your kid’s class blew $100,000 on prom, and they look at you with disgust, just tell them it went to help change the world.

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