This blog is courtesy of Beth Offenbacker, an active community volunteer with area nonprofits. You can reach Beth at

A growing number of community organizations, nonprofits, and foundations are bringing younger generations into established giving programs. estimates today there are nearly 600 programs in the United States and more than 250 programs in other nations that teach young people how to give.

IMG 5403photo courtesy of Janice MorrisBuilding awareness among Northern Virginia youth about community philanthropy was the focus of a new initiative this spring – “Be the Change!” – at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (UUCA).  This was the first year UUCA included youth as part of their larger Annual Giving campaign, according to LeeAnn Williams, director of religious education at UUCA. 

UUCA, an 800-member congregation, has an active religious education program that emphasizes stewardship among its many values.  This includes the importance of giving time, energy, and resources to support each other and the community, including the UUCA faith community.

“By having the younger members of our church family take part in fundraising,” said Williams, “we hope to teach them how important financial commitment is to fulfilling our mission of connect, grow and serve.”

Children and adults were encouraged to bring all spare change to church on a designated Sunday – whether in their wallet, on their dresser or in a jar – as part of UUCA’s "Be the Change!" Religious Education fundraiser.  An empty fish tank was set up in the fellowship hall and elementary-age children in the Religious Education program collected spare change after each service.

“This was the first time RE participated in UUCA’s larger campaign, and it was a big success,” said Williams.  “Our goal was to teach the kids about how we as a community support our church and provide an opportunity for them to engage in this process.”

“Here at UUCA we also use our annual Easter Egg hunt as an opportunity to educate our kids about giving—we call it the Hunt for Justice,” Williams added.  “Instead of the usual mad dash for eggs and candy, here at UUCA our kids collect eggs and then bring these eggs to a table where, using the eggs, they vote for the social justice project they want to support.  This past Easter our Hunt for Justice project winners were a Potomac Overlook picnic and clean up and a children’s book drive for Beacon House.”

How is your nonprofit, or the causes you care about, involving youth in giving?  Share your story with us, below!