Jean Shafiroff’s Top 5 Ways To Get Kids Involved In Philanthropy

Jean Shafiroff and her daughters
Jean Shafiroff (center) with her daughters Jackie Shafiroff and Elizabeth Shafiroff at Southampton Hospital’s 53rd Annual Summer Party to benefit the Jenny and John Paulson Emergency Department. Photo by Leandro Justen/PatrickMcMullan.com

Well known in New York City as a philanthropist, mother, and writer (she is the author of Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life by What You Give), Jean Shafiroff has dedicated her life toward a wide array of charitable causes including the New York Women’s Foundation and the American Cancer Society. She also serves on the boards of organizations such as the New York Mission Society and the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. Perhaps she is most well-known for the integral role she plays for the Southampton Hospital, for which she has previously served as chairwoman of the Annual Summer Galas, and the Southampton Animal Shelter, for which she sits on the honorary board.

As a mom and philanthropist, Shafiroff knows the importance of instilling a love of giving back in children at a young age. Here, she shares her top five tips for how to get your kids involved in philanthropy over the summer.

1. Identify Your Kid’s Interests before Deciding on Any Activity

If your child is not interested in sports, volunteering with Special Olympics will most likely be a flop. On the other hand, if your kid loves art, volunteering for a local museum may be a great match. Focus on what your kid loves, and then use that to find philanthropic inspiration. After all, you do want your child do enjoy giving back so that he or she continues with charity throughout adulthood!

2. Match the Activity with your Child’s Age

While volunteering positions offer a fantastic foray into the worlds of both philanthropy and work for teenagers that are middle school- and high school-age, there are countless ways for younger children to give back. The developmental importance of more elementary philanthropic activities should not be underestimated. Start off your young kids with fun, age-appropriate activities. Think of charitable day camps, or even simple at-home activities like going through a kid’s possessions and deciding what they would like to donate. Opening a dialogue on privilege and disadvantage, especially among other children, is vital for helping your children cultivate a benevolent attitude.

3. Consider Collaborating with Your Kids

You don’t want your child to feel overwhelmed, or else they may grow to resent philanthropic work. Instead, choose an altruistic activity that can be used as a means of spending time together so that you can bond, work together, and give back all with the same project. This way, your kid can feel proud to be part of something bigger than he or she could accomplish alone. Such an endeavor may look like a toy or food drive, where you and your child can gather toys from your community in order to donate them to less privileged children.

4. Emphasize Togetherness

Whether your kid would like to spend more time with his or her parents or is more interested in spending time with friends, use philanthropy as a social activity. For example, you can either accompany your kid to a soup kitchen, or better yet bring his or her friends along so that they can have fun spending time together while simultaneously learning and doing something great for the community.

5. Utilize the Power of Virtual Philanthropy

Consider a simpler means of giving back: Online philanthropy. As an example, you could use the internet to research ways you can help your child sponsor a child in need or protect an endangered species. You would be surprised how much change can be made with just a small investment of time and a few dollars. You may find this approach excites your kids, as they can establish connections with kids, causes, or animals around the globe!

Jean Shafiroff is an NYC mother-of-two and has made a name for herself by dedicating her life toward a wide array of charitable causes. She is the author of Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life by What You Give and has penned articles for Social Life Magazine, Hamptons Magazine, Gotham Magazine, and Avenue Magazine.