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Philanthropy is often associated with billionaires who have plenty of money to donate to various charities or something for an organization or business to participate in. In reality, that’s not totally accurate; while the wealthy do participate in philanthropy, wealth isn’t a requirement to help other people. Helping your fellow human beings in any capacity is a quality everyone should learn to make the world a more inviting place and can be learned as early as during a student’s school days. Teachers are a large influence on how younger generations grow and develop, preparing them for post-graduate life. Instilling a sense of compassion and the desire to make a difference starts right now.


How Some Universities Do This


One way to teach students about philanthropy is by taking an approach known as “experiential philanthropy.” Through this method, students learn about giving and being charitable by participating in hands-on activities and experiences. Some schools give classes real money and task the students to donate it all to local nonprofit organizations. This method is pioneered by Northern Kentucky University, whose philanthropy approach started in 1999. The school typically gives students of this approach about $10,000, and to this date, Northern Kentucky University’s students have collectively donated over $1.5 million to local charities. 


The money the students receive isn’t covered by the university’s budget or tuition costs. Rather, organizations such as the Learning by Giving Foundation and the Once Upon a Time Foundation fund these programs to make their existence possible. Over 80 different college campuses participate in this program.


The Results


Simply receiving money from somewhere and donating it may not seem like it’s beneficial, but contrary to that belief, philanthropy programs such as this one work pretty well. A study published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly surveyed more than 600 students who attended Northern Kentucky University from 2009 to 2013 found that those who took the experiential philanthropy course were more interested in donating their time and money to nonprofit organizations than not after taking the course. They were also more likely to be aware of their local community issues and what the nonprofits were doing to solve them. 


In short, teaching philanthropy to students can make a big difference in whether or not they want to participate and make a change in their communities. You don’t have to receive funding and donate money to teach these lessons—planning a day to take your students to a nonprofit and volunteer for a few hours works just as well, as does running a collection to donate items to a local charity. Whether monetary or otherwise, it’s always possible to teach your students that they can make a difference, no matter how big or small.