How we Make Giving More Meaningful and Effective for Donors
Donors already enjoy the satisfaction of supporting good causes. With Seeds of Generosity, the donor is able to support beneficial projects, and, as a bonus, inspire dozens or hundreds of students to learn lessons in the beneficial uses of money that will last a lifetime. Research shows that youth who are involved in philanthropy are about fifty percent more likely to be involved in philanthropy for the rest of their lives. With the future giving of time and money that grows from this inspiration, the donor's gift is multiplied many times.
Philanthropy, Micro-Lending, and Socially Responsible Investing Options
We also use the term donors to apply to philanthropic giving as well as micro-lending to the poor, socially responsible investing ("SRI"), and social entrepreneurship. A donor may decide to simply be an SRI investor for profit and to include students in the process of defining the investment. This would be a "social investment" that would do good not only by the quality of the companies invested in, but also by teaching students how to invest and create a better world at the same time. Alternatively, your donation can be completely philanthropic as in the following example:
* you make a $2,000 donation for SRI and philanthropy
* the students choose SRI Screens and make the investment
* the students choose a charity that receives the interest earned from the investment
* after five years, the stock is sold and the entire principal is given to the chosen charity
This option provides additional advantages, as it combines SRI and charitable giving. Also, it helps to educate individuals at the charity about SRI, further expanding the base of people and charities who will invest in socially-beneficial companies.
Micro-loans through Kiva.org, a nonprofit that facilitates loans to the poor, can be as little as $25. With our micro-lending program, a sum of money is provided which will be directed by students. For example, if a donor makes a $1,000 gift that is designated for Kiva loans, those funds will be lent to a variety of small businesses, probably in several countries. Kiva has over a 98% payback rate, so as loans are repaid, the same money can be re-lent each year by succeeding classrooms. This one gift from a donor could, over many years, literally expose hundreds of future students to this valuable and meaningful educational experience. In addition to helping the poor, the students would also act as "socially beneficial bankers," and from that unique perspective would learn about the process of building a business, applying for a loan, getting approved, using the money, and then repaying it over time as the business grows. People sometimes comment about how schools don't teach real-world financial skills. Seeds of Generosity's micro-lending program does that, and in addition provides a positive, world-improving aspect.
SRI (Socially Responsible Investing)
Donors can also provide money for students to use in socially responsible investing. The students can learn that over the course of more than 20 years, funds invested in SRI often match or perform better than funds invested in mainstream companies. They would also learn that in 2010, one in eight dollars invested in the U.S. were in socially beneficial companies. Students in this program will most often not invest in individual companies as that would be more time-consuming and would not spread the risk. Investing in SRI diversified or money market funds reduces the time needed by investment advisors who would be working with smaller investment amounts than usual. Students simply choose Affirmative Filters (eco-friendly products, good labor practices, service to the community, for example), and Avoidance Filters (no weapons, animal testing, alcohol, etc.). These choices provide interesting and socially relevant topics for the students to discuss. And, similar to the Kiva.org loans, the students learn about money management and investing. They can enjoy tracking the performance of their investments for months or years. As a philanthropic angle, the donor can designate that the interest earned from the investments be donated to a nonprofit, also chosen by the students. Or, the donor can establish that after five or ten years the stock will be sold and the principal donated to nonprofits chosen by students at the time of that future gift.
Students find a need in their community, create a unique way to help, write a brief proposal to Seeds of Generosity, and we provide funding for them to carry out their project. For example, a class could investigate a local women’s shelter and find that they could use weatherproofing and painting of the shelter. The students could apply to us for funds for materials and supplies, and then provide a day of renovation. Another class might find that homeless people are heavily affected by wet and cold, and find a creative way to provide them with dryness and warmth.
A Percentage to the School
We also encourage donors to give at least 5% or 10% of their gift to the participating school. We all know that schools could use some extra funds right now, and this gives the school, teachers and students extra incentive to participate in the philanthropy, both on the giving and receiving ends!
Most donors are very pleased at the idea of amplifying their giving by using their funds to inspire and motivate youth. If a class of 30 students is able to participate in giving $5,000 to nonprofits, for example, it is likely that at least a few of them will have their eyes opened to the deep satisfaction that flows from giving, and will make giving and volunteering a lifelong habit.
The Donor's Choices
Seeds of Generosity maintains a General Account for general donations that are directed by students, guided by their teachers and overseen by us. Individual accounts will be established as donors select their desired areas of philanthropic giving. Seeds of Generosity forsees creating at least the following of accounts, and we look forward to working with donors to customize their giving to achieve their goals and values:
* International Affairs
* Drug/Alcohol Rehabilitation
* Animal Rights
* Womens’ Issues
* Health Care
* International Development
* Human Services
* Human Rights
Seeds of Generosity will make funds in each account available to schools and students. For example, if a 10th grade class wants to fund local nonprofits supporting health care, women’s issues and children, then it could request funds from those accounts. Thus, the students will have the freedom to make choices that inspire them, and donors’ wishes regarding use of their funds will be honored.
Duane and other staff work directly with donors, helping them to decide whether:
- to be anonymous or to have their name associated with the project;
- to contribute to the General Fund or to specific areas of giving;
- to designate a specific school or not;
- to participate in the project in some way (e.g., speak to the students about why the donor wishes to empower and share this experience, or come to the school for the check-writing celebration); and
- to donate a portion of funds to the participating school (we recommend 5% to 10%, or more).
Planned Giving Option
Besides making current gifts, donors can also plan gifts through their Will or Trust. One donor has established 60% of her estate to be gifted for environmental causes. She is providing $4,000 per year for her four nieces and nephews to get together annually to make gifting decisions. For parents (or aunts, uncles or grandparents), this can be a practical and meaningful way to pass on values of generosity and community to their family. One of Seeds of Generosity's supporters herself has been gifted with this opportunity to give yearly. Through her grandfather's Trust, she, her brother and her father each give approximately $70,000 each year to the nonprofit projects of their choice. She relates that this charitable trust has been one of the best things to happen in her life. You can read more about her experience here.
Seeds of Generosity's staff works with donors and their advisors, accountants or attorneys as needed to plan and facilitate these gifts. An interesting option here is to have the donor's children work with a certain amount of funds annually through Seeds of Generosity, so their children not only participate in philanthropy, but they also, in turn, inspire and educate others toward more participation in giving.
Seeds of Generosity's Role
Seeds of Generosity facilitates the process of channeling philanthropic and socially invested money through schools. Our staff works first with the donor to determine what they would like to achieve at the school level with their gift. We seek to strike a balance between having the donor's general wishes met, while still leaving flexibility for students so they can be inspired about what most touches them.
Donors can provide funds for any combination of the Seeds of Generosity realms: Philanthropy, SRI, Micro-Lending, and Social Entrepreneurship; and we recommend that some percentage of their gift (5% to 10% or more) be given directly to the school.
Care With Nonprofit Selection
Keeping in mind that students' parents may want to know what their children are doing through this project, Seeds of Generosity will work with the donors and schools to avoid sensitive subjects (unless co-chosen by them). For example, at least through the public schools we would avoid gifts to specific faiths, political nonprofits or politicians, media entities that are biased, and other nonprofits that might be politically or socially divisive. There may be more choice with giving funds through private schools or organizations (e.g., Boy Scouts). If a faith-based private school has donors that would wish to support its specific goals, and if the parents, teachers and administration agree, then Seeds of Generosity would help to facilitate those gifts.
How to Donate Online
If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to support our service, Seeds of Generosity uses 15% for its operating costs, 10% is given to participating schools, and 75% goes to the charities, micro-loans, SRI investments or social entrepreneurship projects chosen by the students and teachers and approved by us. $300 will provide funds for a philanthropy class, and $30 will fund one micro-loan through Kiva.org. Any amount you donate will have a positive, lasting impact. If you wish to customize your donation by specific philanthropy categories or Programs, please contact us here.
Thank you for visiting our website, and for planting seeds of generosity in the next generation!
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