November 11, 2002
Best Practices in Youth Philanthropy
This document -- which we hope you will use, not merely consign to your estimable list of good intentions -- was inspired by the 1999 White House Conference on Philanthropy. Youth and adults extolled the virtues of involving youth in philanthropy to an enthusiastic audience that included the President and First Lady. The White House and several national foundations sponsored a series of follow-up meetings, culminating in a request to the Coalition of Community Foundations for Youth, a national organization of 200 community foundations, to organize next steps. We believe this document is a step in the right direction, but what you do with it will determine if it in fact has traction.
In advocating for youth philanthropy, the Coalition is motivated by two values:
- Philanthropy as a means of mobilizing society's assets for the betterment of all is enhanced by providing authentic opportunities for youth voice and influence; and
- Young people are a current -- not a deferred -- source of insight and knowledge about issues affecting community well being. Youth philanthropy contributes to community now as well as in the future.
What makes youth philanthropy effective? This document probes the lessons learned from a decade of experience to extract what qualities youth philanthropy programs have in common. It does not advance any single model or prescribe a set of activities. Rather, the aim is to provide a framework for understanding the principles that underlie sound practice and sound program design decisions. By looking at what's best and what's promising, we hope to stir new, renewed and deeper commitment to the investments needed to support quality youth philanthropy opportunities.