Family Philanthropy Project – How to Grow Your Family’s Heart by Jodie Palmer

by Jodie Palmer on September 4, 2012

“All the Whos down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot, But the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did not. The Grinch hated Christmas ó the whole Christmas season. Oh, please don’t ask why, no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. Or maybe his head wasn’t screwed on just right. But I think that the best reason of all May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.” Dr. Seuss

Our daughter, Maggie has severe cerebral palsy. Her needs are financially heavier than Doug and I can carry alone. As we considered the problem of the quality of our daughters life, our financial resources, and the large, gaping chasm in between we had a stroke of genius.

Actually, it wasn’t our genius, it was God’s. And it was genius because it not only would help us meet Maggie’s needs, it would help us move forward another cause we felt deeply about—making the world a better place.

Maggie’s Month is a Family Philanthropy Project.

We thought a lot about using that word “philanthropy” to describe the heart of Maggie’s Month, just because philanthropy sounds like something that only applies to wealthy people who get their names on museums, hospital buildings, and symphony halls.

Maggie’s Month was to be more than just about our daughter Maggie. Maggie’s Month was meant to represent a solution to a world full of serious hurting and deep needs – . . . More people that have Philanthropy in their hearts.


What is family philanthropy?

Philanthropy is simply a big word for turning care and concern into action.
So, we decided that philanthropy was actually the perfect word to represent our greater hope for Maggie’s Month.

One of the Palmer Family Mantras is, “One person can’t do everything, but everyone can do something!” We want to inspire other families to take action on something they care about, respond to a need they see, and support a cause that matters to them as a regular part of their family culture.

Maggie’s Month is simply one opportunity for a family to work together to make a big difference for another person, and discover how good it feels.

Philanthropy makes us better, happier people. Science say’s it’s so, but more importantly, experience bears it out.

Philanthropy simply follows the Law of Cause and Effect. My friend, and financial coach, Janine Bolon says, “Depending on our religious or cultural backgrounds we might have heard it described as:

“The Law of Cause and Effect”
“The Law of the Harvest”
“What you sow, that you shall reap.”
“What goes around comes around.”
“Birds of a feather flock together.”
“To him that has, more shall be given.”
“Like begets like.”
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

We simply can’t do good and not have it affect us for good, both inside and out.
Try an experiment of your own. Next time you’re feeling depressed, afraid, victimized, or suffering from a scarcity mentality determine to reach out and help someone. Plant the seed and see for yourself what kind of fruit it bears.

“And what happened then…? Well…in Who-ville they say That the Grinch’s small heart Grew three sizes that day!”

But Why FAMILY Philanthropy?

Let me share the “why” with a story.

During our first Maggie’s Month we received a letter in the mail that said,

“Dear Maggie,
“When we got the email from your mom we all looked at your website and then gathered as a family to talk about it. We all voted to do something, but it was difficult to decide what. We had so many ideas, but Mom and Dad were worried about time.

kids playing on a swing set
“Finally, the idea was proposed that we give you the money in our swing set savings bucket. For the past few years we have kept a 5-gallon bucket that we put all our spare change in in hopes of saving enough money to buy a swing set. If you get all your treatments, maybe you will be able to play on a swing set some day.

“We know the Lord will bless us for helping you and maybe we can build a swing set as a family project. We are praying for you.”

Read this original story HERE . Read about Little Sam’s gift Here.

It isn’t hard to imagine the growth that happened in these children’s hearts as they jointly decided to delay their long-desired dream of a swing set for the benefit of another. The lessons learned, memories shared, and character built through this experience were incalculable, and priceless.

As children, our character and our worldview are largely created through our family culture. Adult philanthropists who are full of hope and abundance, who are healing society, and who are generally happier, more successful people are more likely to come from homes that practice philanthropy.

children working with parents
Children learn by watching and participating. Parents can multiply their efforts, and their long-term impact for good by engaging their whole family in philanthropic work.

Family philanthropy projects are deposits into the character and happiness of our children. Children might only be adding pennies toward a particular cause, but don’t underestimate the priceless value of those pennies as a generation of philanthropists are raised.

Bottom line, philanthropy is good for our neighborhoods, community and world. And, it’s good for our hearts.

“Give said the little stream, give o give, give o give. Give said the little stream as it hurried down the hill. I’m small I know but wherever I go the grass grows greener still. Singing, singing all the day, give away o give away. Singing, singing all the day, give o give away.”

We hope that Maggie’s Month will become one of your family’s favorite annual philanthropic projects.

But more importantly, we hope that your family will find the joy that comes in becoming regular philanthropists. Dr. Seuss knew what he was talking about . . . you’re heart will grow three times as well.

Learn more about Maggie’s Month HERE

Read more about Family Philanthropy HERE 

Check out our Maggie’s Month events HERE

As you grow older you will discover
that you have two hands.
One for helping yourself,
the other for helping others.
Abraham Lincoln

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