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Establish your goals and audience

Determine and write down your goals for the program.

Having a clear set of goals helps clarify the program structure to better suit your needs and the needs of your community. It lays a clear foundation for talking to your grantees  and their parents about the benefits of participating.. Below is an example of what an outline might look like. feel free to use or modify this example or get creative and write your own.

  1. Educate future generations about the impact and importance of nonprofits and philanthropy on society.

  2. Teach future generations how to do basic research about nonprofits and social impact.

  3. Empower those without the means to have an impact on societal issues that matter most to them.


Determine your target group.

In the example documents here the target group is 10 to 18 year olds. There are plenty of materials for teaching philanthropy to a wide range of audiences through Learning to Give. This course on Teaching Philanthropy under the Develop Skills → Mini Courses section of their website is a great place to start.

Engage parents.

Hands off granting programs, like this one, require parents to be directly engaged. Ensure they are interested and willing to work with their child/ren in building good research habits and understanding the impact of their grants. If the parents in your target community don’t feel confident teaching these skills or mentoring their child/ren, refer them to the above resources on teaching philanthropy. (The short course linked above should take about an hour and can be broken up).

Establish the granting fund

This is simply the pool of money that finances the grants your program is offering.. In the simplest form this could be a checking or savings account. An option that streamlines several aspects of bookkeeping (like tax reporting and donation of securities) is to use a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) like the ones offered by Fidelity Charitable. I used Fidelity Charitable but there are other companies that offer similar services. . Beyond streamlining taxes, these funds allow donations to be made in another’s name, making it easy to attribute the contributions to the youth making the grants. Fidelity Charitable Giving Account has no minimum contribution requirement. A DAF also makes it easy for others in your group, family, or community to donate to the program. Donations are considered charitable giving and are tax deductible at the time they’re made. 

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Set the program guidelines

The guidelines are the core of program operations and should clearly communicate procedures to all involved.  Program guidelines will clarify when grants will be made and when any related, submissions, or tasks are due. These guiding rules and procedures also take into account any other constraints or artifacts that need to accompany submissions.


The program I established uses the following structure. Your program can follow this model or create your own.

  1. Initial grant certificates with amounts for the year are given to youth participants on Thanksgiving. 

  2. Grantee selections are due by January 31st.

  3. A valid submission requesting the grantee selected must include a 1 page essay explaining why the participants chose the given organization.

  4. All children in my extended family, starting at the age of 10, are eligible to participate and given a grant certificate.

  5. Year 1 grant is $100. Each year that a given youth participates their grant amount the next year increases by $100.

  6. In February, the grants are made in the grantor’s names and a summary of the giving activity, along with links to the essays are shared with the extended family.

These guidelines are communicated to participants using this template letter, which is included with the certificate when the process starts.

Run your program

You’re all set! This structure is managed with a few hours a year and provides unlimited benefits to youth and their community.  You’ll gain insight into the youth’s passions, knowledge, and capabilities. The value of giving back, encouraging community involvement and laying the groundwork for the next generation is unmeasurable. Give our  youth the means, opportunity, and a bit of trust and they will impress, and perhaps even surprise you.
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