I wrote the story below as an entry on the PWRDFBlog. It received such a great response that I have been asked to share it here on the PWRDF website as well.
I’ve been debating with myself whether to share this story or not for quite a while now. It’s a great story about two donors to PWRDF. But it’s also about my two boys. And I generally try not to look like I’m bragging about my kids (which, admittedly, I do from time to time…) Today I’ve finally decided it’s time to share.
When my wife and I decided to give our kids allowance, we decided to give them money allocated to different things. Each week, they get $1 to spend, $1 to save, and $1 to use to help other people. We are trying to teach them right from the get-go about the importance both of saving but also of giving back.
Round about a year ago (around the time of the Haiti earthquake), I had a long conversation with my older son about the disaster and about how PWRDF responds to help people in emergencies, and also about how we work with people around the world to improve their lives. He decided he wanted to give some of his “help other people” dollars to PWRDF and sent a donation- all in loonies. He also decided that he would give $1 at least once a month.
He was all of six.
So, each week, as I gave him his $3 in loonies, I would ask if he wanted to send a dollar to PWRDF. Many weeks he said yes, some weeks he said no. But he became well known around the office for his donations. In fact, we have a separate box where his loonies go. When enough accumulate, they are added to our deposits.
Fast forward to last September, when my younger son was old enough to get allowance (we start them at 4 years old). Like his brother, he started giving some of his “help other people” dollars to PWRDF. But then, about 3 months ago, he stopped.
Now, these dollars are theirs to decide where they go- the “help other people” dollars have gone to the library, the church, the zoo, and other places. We don’t tell them where to give, just that they must be used to help other people rather than buying more Beyblades, Lego, or the other goodies the rest of their allowance goes on.
So I didn’t pry when my younger son didn’t want to give his dollar to PWRDF. But after he had refused several weeks in a row, I did ask why he didn’t want to give to help PWRDF. His reply was simple and direct: “It’s boring.”
“OK,” I replied, respecting his wishes. Two weeks later we repeated the conversation, and I heard again that PWRDF was boring! Later that week, he and I had a half hour alone while waiting for his gymnastics class to start. So I asked him, “Why do you think PWRDF is boring?”
“It just is.”
Obviously, I had picked the wrong tack for this conversation. So I started again. ”What kinds of things are interesting to you in helping other people?” He thought about this for a minute. ”Doctors.”
Great! Doctors! So I talked to him about the health care work PWRDF does- about helping doctors and nurses in places around the world where the need is great. I told him that he could tell us to use his dollars to help doctors and nurses (our health care program). And he got very excited.
The next week, I asked if he wanted to give a dollar to PWRDF, and he said- “for doctors?” ”Yes,” I replied. He handed me his loonie, and I brought it to work. So I had created PWRDF’s youngest designated donor. He hasn’t missed a week since of sending his dollar to help the doctors.
But my favorite part of this story came about 2 weeks later. As he gave me his dollar, he said, “When does the doctor come to get my dollars?”
And another conversation ensued…