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Wealthy kids and philanthropy

By Dian Vujovich

I’m going to guess that nearly every parent reading this– no matter what their income level— has at one time or another told his or her kids that philanthropic giving is a good thing. In addition to that, that it’s good for the soul. Now one pro says it can even keep your kids out of trouble.

Speaking to an audience of advisors whose clients are the wealthy, Julie Williams Lytle, vice president and exec director of Philanthropic Services at Whittle Trust Company, said, “Children of privilege face inherent risks. ”

One of them, she said was that they feel “unempowered “. I’m not sure how on that score but that point was made during her presentation on April 29 at the 2011 Conference on Philanthropy in Chicago.

Perhaps bigger than a lack of empowerment, Lytle said that philanthropic giving could even lower substance abuse and pregnancy rates. Reason being: Giving is something wealthy young people can do that may make a difference in the world. In other words, “empower” them.

I don’t really care for the word “empower” because it’s so Oprah-ish. But what the heck, for one reason or another it is now pretty much ensconced in America’s vocabulary even though I’d bet not everyone knows what it really means.

What everybody from all walks of life, rich or poor, does know for sure is that substance abuse and unwanted pregnancies can negatively a teen’s life throughout all of their life. Period.

Back to the wealthy and their kids.

For those who’d like to keep the family wealth in the family, and teach their kids about giving, Lytle offered a few suggestions.

Included were: Start teaching money values early to your kids beginning at say ages like four or five; be intentional and overt about your own giving; and use tools on the Web to help teach your children about giving. Share Save Spend and “www.youthgive.org were both suggested.

Bottom line: Lead by example.

And from me: Remember, you don’t need a huge fortune to have a philanthropic nature. Giving to any charity can begin with $1. Or even pennies.

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