Dec 06, 2021

Guest Post: Teaching Giving by Giving

From NGPF Fellow, Kerri Herrild of De Pere High School (WI): 

I have a thing about giving back.  It’s a pretty big deal to me.  That’s because I have been the recipient of generous giving ever since being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2005.  After diagnosis, everyone wanted to know how to help.  They couldn’t live my life, take my symptoms away, or take my medications.  The only thing that we could think of was to raise money for research, since there is no cure.  

We started a team, called The Herrild Angels, and we began participating in our local Walk MS each year.  One year led to another, and it became an annual tradition.  We never have had one wealthy donor who has given a large amount of money, but rather many family, friends, students, colleagues, etc. who have all given modest amounts through the years.  To say that over $100,000 has been donated to the National MS Society on my family’s behalf, since 2005, is humbling and overwhelming.    

Shifting to my career as a Personal Finance teacher, I have struggled for a way to show students the value of giving back.  I didn’t want them to have to donate money, and each student has different values.  How could I teach them what it felt like for another human, who they might not even know, to give to a cause simply because it was important to them?  That’s how The Giving Project was created.

Here is the rundown:

  1. Find a philanthropist to partner with for this project.
  2. Teach the NGPF Philanthropy Mini Unit.
  3. Introduce The Giving Project:
    1. Students research a charity that is meaningful to them, making sure program expenses are at least 66%, and that the mission statement is in line with their values.
    2. Students create a promotion (Google Slides, poster, video, flier, brochure, etc) to share details of their charity including financial impact, local or personal connection, goods and services provided, and how to give to this particular organization.
    3. Students who earn at least 80% on their assignment will earn a $20 donation for their charity from our philanthropist partner.
    4. In addition, if the donor is willing, students can present their project to important adults in their life, and the donor will match donations brought in from home.

I just finished up this unit, along with my fellow Personal Finance teacher, Todd Anderson.  Our four sections of students earned $1760 in donations just for doing well on the assignment.  In addition, $1445 brought in from home is being matched by our donor.  That means that our students made a total impact of $4650 on 73 different charities that they researched and vetted.  

This is about much more than the money though.  My hope is that someday when these students are financially stable and able to include giving in their budget, they will think back to this project.  If my predictions are correct, we won’t see the true impact of this project until years into the future when these students can start giving of themselves. All because of one class project.

At a time when teaching is HARD, this lifts me up.  If you want to learn more, feel free to reach out at!


Check out this FinCap Friday, When Good Goes Viral, to start the discussion in your classroom about giving back. 

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