Question: When It Comes To Giving, Is It Better To Give Time or Money?

From WSJ (subscription):

It’s the holiday season; a time when many open their checkbooks (or go online to make payments) to support their favorite charities. Researchers have found three mistakes commonly made by charitably minded people:

Question: Experiences or Things? What Do You Enjoy More?


This question seems apropos given the holiday season and is a great discussion starter. Ask your students to think about the 2-3 items that they purchased in the last year that they were (and continue to be) most excited about. Would they be classified as experiences or things?

This very accessible and relatively short (914 words or about 5 minutes) Scientific American article provides some scientific research to support one purchase type over the other (bold type are my own):

Video: What Does It Take to Be An Effective Altruist?

Sorry, but on a roll now with this theme of charitable giving (check out this podcast with Eileen Heisman, leader in the world of philanthropy). Here is a thought-provoking TED video with Peter Singer, ethicist from Princeton (Warning: the first 1:30 of this 17 minute video involves a car accident involving a young child is extremely difficult to watch for many reasons) :

What do I like about the video?

By |August 3rd, 2016|Ethics, Generosity, Video Resource|

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks to Eileen Heisman about Effective Philanthropy

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A big thank you to Eileen Heisman, President and CEO of the National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), for the great conversation we had recently on the podcast. Eileen heads one of the largest grant-making organizations in the United States and is a perennial pick on those “most influential” lists you see in the world of philanthropy. Eileen’s perspectives on charitable giving are informed from her decades of service as an educator, non-profit board member, entrepreneur and leader of the 6th largest donor-advised fund in the United States. She shares insights on how educators might structure an activity to teach students about charitable giving and also has some great tips on what to look for in vetting a non-profit organization. I also enjoyed the examples she gave of the most inspiring gifts that she has seen. We hope to pair this podcast with a lesson/activity in philanthropy (late Fall release) to provide students with examples of how money can be used as a tool to improve society.


  • 0:00~1:30 – Introduction
  • 1:30~
By |August 2nd, 2016|Audio Resource, Generosity, Lesson Idea, Podcasts|

Teachers, What If You Wrote A Money Letter To Your Students?


Ok, I admit this may seem a little far-fetched, but stick with me for a minuter here. Ron Lieber (NY Times) has a column this Saturday imploring parents to write a money letter to their kids to get a conversation going:

The Money Talk, capital “M” and capital “T,” is overrated. As with the Sex Talk, children can sense that one is coming. And if they get antsy, your words will go in one ear and out the other.

Tempted to hand over a notecard instead? Your first principles may fit on it, and making one for a new graduate is a fine thing to do. But there isn’t much space for storytelling.

So in this season of transitions, consider the old-fashioned letter. It’s long enough to tell some tales to bolster your advice, and if it’s written with enough soul, there’s a good chance the recipient will keep it for a long time. Plus, it’s a literal conversation piece, since the good letters will inspire more curiosity about how the writers oversee their own financial affairs.

What makes a good money letter (Here’s a template that a writer, Kimberly Palmer, shared with the Times):

Question: How Much Did Americans Give To Charity in 2015?

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Answer: $373 Billion, which set a new record. With GDP of about $18 trillion, this giving figure represents about 2% of GDP.

Courtesy of Giving USA:

“The last two years represent the highest and second-highest totals for giving—and the third and fourth largest percentage increases in giving—in the past 10 years, adjusted for inflation,” said Amir Pasic, Ph.D., the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Pasic added that “the share of total giving going to each type of recipient was virtually the same in 2015 as it was in 2014. During and after the recession, some donors redirected donations to assist with pressing needs. The fact that the portion of the giving “pie” destined for the various subsectors has been largely consistent for the past two years suggests that giving among the broad destination categories may be stabilizing.”

So, where are these charitable contributions going (sure wish this was a pie chart!)?

  • Religion—at $119.30 billion, 2015 giving increased 2.7 percent in current dollars, and 2.6 percent when adjusted for inflation.
  • Education—giving increased to $57.48 billion, 8.9 percent more in current dollars
By |June 17th, 2016|Current Events, Generosity, Question of the Day, Research|

Activity Idea: Personal Finance Truths Displayed On A Napkin

I stumbled across this interactive that displays over 150 of the Sketch Guy’s (aka Carl Richards) Personal Finance on a Napkin posts. I love the way he can take complex topics and break them down using simple drawings.

Here’s an example of one of his sketches that shows the relationship between your happiness when spending money on others:

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 6.03.05 PM

You might ask your students to select 5 (or any other number you think is appropriate) of these sketches, read the blog post that accompanies the chart and answer the following questions:

  • What personal finance concept is he explaining with his chart?
  • Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
  • Feeling creative? Draw your own napkin sketch that explains a personal finance concept that applies to you.

If you want to point students to specific sketches, here are a few that I thought might be most relevant:

Video Resources: Student FDIC Song, Benefits of Generosity and Payday Lending

A few videos that caught my attention this week:

  • FDIC Song (2:38): A student duet (complete with a ukelele) which provides a historical perspective on the FDIC and all done to the tune of “8 Days of Week.” Well done!

  • Here’s an amazing stat..there are more payday lending “stores” than Starbucks and McDonalds combined! Watch this short video from PBS NewsHour (3:34) to learn why they are so popular: