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The Importance of Involving Children In Philanthropy

Creating the Lacey Family Foundation has been an exceptionally rewarding experience for me. In connecting with organizations whose mission is to use the healing power of animal therapy to help people, I have learned just how powerful these therapies are and what a difference even small contributions can make.

For me, the most gratifying aspect in this work is the participation of my entire family, especially our youngest members, who have been actively engaged since our founding in 2014.

Research suggests that they have a deeply rooted instinct to share and to help others, from the time they’re very young. Kids, it seems, have a strong, natural drive to be kind and generous.

Through this experience, they can then define what philanthropy means to them and what change they would like to see in the world. They learn, just by small acts of giving, how to become a change maker, what it means to be a good person and citizen as well as learning from and teaching others how to collaborate and make a difference.

“I think helping our kids experience the happiness that comes from giving to others is probably one of the most valuable ways we can nurture generosity in them,” says Lara Aknin, an assistant professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University in Canada. “It sets off this positive cycle: Giving makes people happy and happiness promotes giving.”

The Lacey Family Foundation Advisors have been in it from the very beginning when I asked them to decide what focus they wanted our giving to have. Passionate animal lovers combined with wanting to help people less advantaged than the Lacey’s led them to the animal therapy category. From there, together we developed a set of principles to operate by.

Initially, I researched the organizations, contacted Executive Directors, analyzed financial reports, and put together proposals. But it was always the Advisors who made the final decisions of who and how much.

As we are heading into our seventh year of giving and the kids are now successful young adults, I can reflect on their growth in the Foundation’s work. They have developed critical thinking and judgment skills and have learned how to sort through differences and come to a decision they all agree with. They can take what they have learned at the Lacey Family Foundation with them the rest of their lives.

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