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What if I or my target group don’t have a background in philanthropy/non profits?

No problem at all! We’d recommend checking out some of the following resources to learn about the field. 


Glossary of Philanthropic Terms - Council on Foundations


A History of Modern Philanthropy - National Philanthropic Trust

Teen Philanthropy Cafe - Exponent Philanthropy

What if I just want to learn more about youth philanthropy or philanthropy in general?

If you are curious about the field of youth philanthropy in general, there are a number of organizations and resources we encourage you to connect with.


How much time does this take?

We recommend setting aside at least 8-10 hours per year to work with your family members, talk about the grantmaking process for your own specific program, and also talk about any additional topics related to philanthropy. You’ll also want some time set aside to review family members’ submissions and of course make the grants through your Donor Advised Fund, by check, online, etc. Of course, if you want to dedicate additional time throughout the year, you should absolutely do so! For my program, I also write a summary to offer feedback and engagement for the parents.

I like the idea but would really like to do something with more structure. What do you recommend?

Your program can be as structured or unstructured as you see fit. There are over 500 youth philanthropy programs across the US alone. If you prefer to engage your younger family members in a more structured or formal program, we recommend you check out’s Programs Map to search for programs that may be a good fit for your family members. 


You could also add structure to your own program by requiring more formal requests from your family members or a more formal decision making process around what organization/s may receive grant dollars.

Is this expensive?

This work is as expensive or inexpensive as you want it to be! Fidelity Charitable, for example, has no minimum for opening a Donor Advised Fund and grant minimums start at $50/grant. It is up to you how much you wish your family member/s to be responsible for in terms of their grant making, how many grant making cycles you wish to have a year, and how many family members to include in the process. 


That said, if you are aiming to run a more structured program, request more in-depth submissions from your family members, or proposals from nonprofits (i.e. as you’d receive through a very formal grantmaking application process), you should consider the trade off between time spent doing this work and how much your program will be granting out. The goal is not to give pennies for progress, but to simultaneously provide an important experience for young people in your family and financially support organizations in a meaningful way.

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