Frequently Asked Questions
How was Seeds of Generosity created?
Attorney Duane Light, the founder, has been involved in charitable volunteering, advising, and fundraising for over 30 years. He went to law school primarily to make the world a better place. In his career, he has provided pro bono assistance for well over 50 nonprofits. Duane was working on a charitable-based estate planning project in 2010, when one morning he was inspired with the idea of channeling some of the planned gifts through schools. This gifting option was first called "Teaching Giving." The name later evolved into "Seeds of Generosity," which he and supporters thought better expressed the true aim of the project. Duane obtained nonprofit sponsorship through MarinLink, a California 501(c)(3) organization. He then brought together a team of teachers, staff and advisors, developed the graphics and website with talented designer Mariah Parker, raised the initial funds, and supported Karen DeTore, MA Ed.Admin., our Education Director, in her planning for the Fall, 2011 pilot classes. Duane now serves as Development Director and interim Executive Director.
How do I know the money will go to good causes?
All of our funds are managed by our sponsoring nonprofit, MarinLink, Inc.( www.marinlink.org)., MarinLink has been operating successfully since 2003 and is managed by an MBA, Mary O'Mara, who has extensive business and nonprofit experience. When a class chooses a gift, Seeds of Generosity first confirms that the recipient of any philanthropic gift iis a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and then sends a written request to MarinLink. MarinLink staff writes the check to the charity, to the socially responsible investment broker, or for the micro-loan.
Alternatively, if the donor wishes to be more involved, he or she can write the check and, if desired, come to the class and be part of the celebration with the students.
To assure proper nonprofit donations that are made through an estate plan, Seeds of Generosity's staff will work with the donor's Personal Representative or Trustee to direct the gift in a way that fulfills the donor's wishes.
What if a student's parent does not like giving to philanthropy and complains to the administration or teacher?
We know that not all parents will like all classes, books, teaching styles or lessons in a school. Teachers in general have experience in discussing these issues with parents. Our Education Director, Karen DeTore, will guide teachers in how to respond to questions. In general, we believe that the vast majority of parents will be very pleased that their children will have the opportunity to practice philanthropy, learn about responsible lending to small businesses, and learn about investing money in businesses that have beneficial products, services and practices. We think that most parents will also like the idea of their children learning about different uses of money, how to do math with money, and experience analyzing small businesses and nonprofits by acting as philanthropists, lenders and investors.
Are there any legal issues for me to worry about?
We work carefully to make this process legal, ethical and successful on all levels. Our Education Director, Karen DeTore, has thirty years of experience as a teacher and administrator, and is familiar with requirements and safeguards in the school realm. We also have the experience of others on our team to rely upon. Some of our teachers and advisors have experience with introducing philanthropy to students, and Kiva.org already has well-tested lesson plans at the middle and high school levels for students making micro-loans. We are moving slowly and carefully with the teachers and schools. Our goal is to simply provide real-life money and learning experiences for the students, and allow the school administration and teachers to take care of the details.
At the helm is Duane Light, an attorney who has worked with businesses and nonprofits for more that twenty-five years. He is facilitating all legal requirements for the nonprofit, including for lifetime gifts and estate planned gifts. He or other staff will work with the donor's accountants, attorneys and advisors to provide any documents or assistance they may request.
What if our school has an Angel Donor who might want to participate in this program with gifts through our school?
We envision that this will happen quite often. Donors sometimes prefer to support schools that they attended as children, or schools where their own children attend. If you know of a donor who might be interested, it is fine for you to talk to them, tell them about our project and refer them to this website.
Is there a minimum gift in order to participate?
On our website, we accept gifts through Paypal of any amount, which will go into our general fund to be used for a variety of schools and programs. For any donor who wishes to be more involved with the gifting, or generally designate categories for use of the funds, we request a minimum gift of $500 so it is worthwhile for our staff, the teachers, the administrators, and the students. Of course, the larger the gift, the larger the impact, but donors can feel free to see how this works the first time at a low funding commitment, and then can choose to channel more of their donations in this way in the future.
Is my son or daughter going to be programmed to a particular political or social agenda through this project?
We generally avoid gifts to any political cause or person, specific faiths (unless through a private school at the donors request), and controversial or hot-button issues. Students in general are exposed to a wide variety of social issues in school, and this project will enable them to learn about societal issues in a meaningful and practical way. Thus, for example, students might discuss how much money to give to animal welfare, hunger issues, or environmental issues. If your son or daughter is exposed to these types of nonprofits, they would still be free to vote yes or no to any one of them to have their own opinion. Remember, it is not the students or schools funds that are being given. The funds come from a donor who wishes the students to have the experience of learning about good uses of money, discussing issues, and making choices. Parents are invited to discuss the project and issues with their children at home, and to share their ideas. One of our favorite quotes is: "Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open mind." - Malcolm S. Forbes. So our goal is to expose students to the general concepts of philanthropy, micro-lending and socially responsible investment. These are intended to help build character and compassion, and we believe that those traits will serve them well in many ways in their lives.
Why are we giving this money to other nonprofits, when the schools need money?
Remember that these funds do not come from students, parents or the government. These are all funds that would be going to nonprofits or micro-loans or socially responsible investing anyway. Through Seeds of Generosity, the funds are simply being funnelled through the schools so students have an opportunity to participate and learn. Additionally, we encourage our donors to give at least 5% or 10% of the funds to the school itself. Thus, Seeds of Generosity will be a net fundraiser for schools. A donor can designate that any percentage of his or her gift be given to the school.
Does Socially Responsible Investment give comparable returns to non-SRI?
The longest-running SRI index, the FTSE KLD 400, was started in 1990. Since that time, it has continued to perform competitively — the FTSE KLD 400 has enjoyed returns of 9.51 percent from inception through December 31, 2009, compared with 8.66 percent for the S&P 500 over the same period. You can read more about SRI performance here.
Is Seeds of Generosity available in all States?
Not yet. We are beginning in California, and have connections in Oregon and Minnesota as well. Once we have the program established, we can facilitate this process in any State by telephone, teleconference and email on the request of donors, administrators, teachers and students. We expect to eventually work with Donor Advisors and Education Directors in other States as we grow and as our funding allows. Our goal is to be able to provide these gifts in all 50 States within five years, and to enable tens of thousands of students to learn how to give, loan and invest money for good.
Are you hiring?
As Seeds of Generosity grows, we will have the need for more Donor Advisors and Education Directors in other States. Please check with us in early 2012, and stay in touch!
I have what I think is a great idea for this project - how do I share it with you?
You can contact Duane Light, Development Director, here, and Karen DeTore, Education Director, here. We love co-creating, and we know there will be a thousand variations and improvements in this wonderful service as it grows. We welcome your participation, creativity, and inspiration to help us create a better world!
What if a class goes really off track and does not fulfill the donors wishes with their choices?
We work with teachers to make sure they understand and agree with the donor's wishes (if any), and we will help to develop a lesson plan to implement it. Either we or the donor will oversee the writing of the check. We believe that most people involved in this kind of project will be of good will. So we aim to create clarity in the lesson plan, with flexibility that allows for student creativity and choice. The main thing is that the funds will go to good causes, and the students will have a meaningful and sometimes life-changing learning experience in the process. If and when there are glitches, we will work with everyone involved to make it right. We thank all donors, administrators, teachers, students, parents, media, and anyone else in advance for seeing the bigger picture and helping us to facilitate powerful and meaningful lessons for students in the beneficial uses of money!
Thank you again for visiting our website.
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