Sebastian’s children were between the ages of nine and fourteen when he dreamed up an experiment to teach them the pleasure of generosity — on their own terms. He gave each child $100 and said, “We’d like you to go out into the community and, in whatever way works for you, get this money out there. The only rule is that you have to tell the family what you did with the money.” The oldest left $5 in the library, dropped $5 off a highway overpass, gave $10 to homeless people, dropped $10 on a soccer field, and so on. His biggest gift was $50 to the Appalachian Trail Association. His younger brother gave all of his money to two nonprofits. Our girl, the youngest, wanted to leave money at a playground. I went with her to a bank and she converted the money into small change. Then she walked around the playground, trying to look nonchalant, and left little piles of coins all over the place. Then we hid in the bushes to see what would happen. The kids started finding the money, and they were just delighted. And I engaged Susy in a conversation about what we’d done. There was the thrill of watching kids find the money, and seeing how they were finding all this money brought up for her the issue of trying to be an invisible, or anonymous, donor, but maybe getting caught.
From “Coming into Money: Preparing Your Children for an Inheritance”