Dr. Arthur Ameis, a proud grandfather and proponent of the Jewish Foundation's youth initiatives, shares his thoughts on the importance of fostering philanthropy within the next generation.
"A few years ago, after reading a well-written article in the CJN about the pros and cons of charitable funds, we decided to call the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto to check out their endowment development program. Although we were initially well outside of our comfort zone, Ronit and her staff helped us to understand and then to create an endowment fund. They have remained a constant source of great advice and guidance, providing us the means and confidence to make meaningful multi-year commitments to some wonderful groups/projects.
During one of our regular chats with Foundation staff, we were told about their youth-oriented initiatives. This led to our decision to create individual funds for each of our grandchildren on their 13th birthdays, and to encourage family and friends to make donations (deductible!) in lieu of gifts (non-deductible!).
Our reasoning is that while children are naturally altruistic, there can be a significant gap between understanding charitable ‘helping’ in the abstract as a child, and developing practical methods/means for actively translating the central Jewish concept of Tzedakah into regular and specific ‘giving’ decisions during their critical teen years. Moreover, by allowing each grandchild to be in charge of their own fund, we believe we have found a meaningful way to acknowledge that they are well on their way to becoming young adults!"