Relationships Podcast Post

Teaching Kids about Effective Altruism

George Grombacher March 6, 2022

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Teaching Kids about Effective Altruism

LifeBlood: We talked about teaching kids about effective altruism, the importance of modeling the behavior you want them to engage in, how to help kids find the area or cause they’d like to give to, and how to meet them where they are with Sybil Ackerman-Munson, Founder of Do Your Good.  

Listen to learn why it’s so important to let kids figure some things out on their own!

You can learn more about Sybil at, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Thanks, as always for listening!  If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and subscribe as well. 

You can learn more about us at LifeBlood.Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact us at contact@LifeBlood.Live.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Sybil Ackerman-Munson

Episode Transcript

Come on one level this is George G and the time is right welcome. Today’s guest is throwing a powerful Sybil Ackerman Munson Sybil. Are you ready to do this?

Sybill Ackerman Munson 0:19
I sure am. Thanks for having me.

george grombacher 0:21
Yeah, excited to have you back on Sybil as the founder of do your good. It’s an organization helping people and making a difference through effective funding strategies and supportive charities and nonprofits. She’s also the host of the do your good podcast, Sybil. Tell us a little about your personal life’s more about your work and why you do what you do.

Sybill Ackerman Munson 0:43
Well, I, the reason my personal life is in a nutshell, I am somebody who has been a nonprofit person my whole career. So I worked in the nonprofit space, and worked with worked specifically on natural resources and environmental work. But you know, I care about so many things to help people and community and it’s sort of how I was brought up. My parents are academics. And they’ve always talked to me about around the dinner table around, they always asked how can you help people better, you know, how can you support community. And so just as an integral part of my life, and so, over time, I started working for donors, wealthy people who give money to charity. And I work for a lot of clients now, who want to give money away effectively and want to give back to the community, they’re, they feel very lucky that they’ve been successful in life. And they want to do more than buy that yacht, they want to really give back and help people, you know, maybe have the same success they have now over time, by giving them the tools that they need to be successful. So it’s a wonderful, wonderful job that I do now. I actually get pitched by over 200 nonprofits a year for my clients to help them figure out to sort of figure out, okay, which nonprofits are a good fit, I think of myself as a matchmaker between nonprofits and donors. And then I work with so many different kinds of people who want to give money away. And so over the years, I said to myself, Man, I’m amassing so much information here. I owe it to society to actually make it more transparent, make giving more transparent, and give away my information, and offer thoughts beyond just with my clients. And so that’s why I created do your good, do your good, has weekly free podcasts and free resources. And then I also have little mini courses that I sell very inexpensively, so that people can learn how to give away money effectively. I also have mini courses for nonprofits to help them hone their pitch. So that’s, it’s just all about who I am, is I really want to sort of democratize giving. I want to support people to give back to the community. And it’s just part of every fiber of my being. And I also want to support my kids next generation of givers, right? So like, just like how my family instilled ethic of giving in me, I want to try to do that with my kids as much as possible.

george grombacher 3:27
I love it. Like, that’s awesome. And you’re kind enough to give us some more of your time. It’s funny that you feel obligated to to give away your knowledge of how to give just Yeah, so it’s kind of like, the easy button to find the easy button kind of thing. Anyway. Totally. Yeah, that’s inside baseball joke right there. But there’s some people out there that kind of got it, though. So anyway, so you grew up around the dinner table or whatever table you were at, your folks are like, Hey, how how can you better help people? And really ingrain that in you? Yeah. That’s such a little thing. But that’s such a powerful thing, too. I wanted to talk with you about specifically, how how you’ve helped your, your family, the next generation, instill that ethic, and then how people can help their kids if they were so inclined to do that as well. So do you have a is it sort of an overarching strategy? Is it a mindset? How, how do you think about passing that on?

Sybill Ackerman Munson 4:39
Yeah, well, there’s a mindset and there’s a strategy, so and also an openness to know that not every kid is different. So I have my own son, who’s my biological son, and then I have three step kids. So I have four kids that I’ve been with for their whole for most of their lives. Every single one of those four kids is complete. Different. So. So that’s the thing. That’s why it’s sort of mindset and strategy, because you do want to think about and approach a kid where they’re at. And some kids just aren’t going to be ready to listen to this giving concept until they’re much older. Right? But others are ready earlier. And there’s no it’s no fault of theirs. It’s just where they’re at in their lives, right. So an openness to that. And if you get too judgmental as a parent, I think you’ll feel pushed them away. Okay, so, but the first thing with mindset is, first, you yourself, need to go through the journey of making sure that you are modeling good behavior. So I actually just did a podcast on my podcast with my son, and talked to him and said, Hey, Cody, my son, why do you feel you want to give? What did I do in my life as your mom that encouraged you to give? You know, the number one thing he said, Is he said, Mom, you just are a person who gives back and I see that. And that’s what I want to do now. And I was expecting him to give me a harder time. He’s 17 years old. He did. And I was like, Wait a minute. Amazing. Yeah. But he’s like, it’s not really mom about the 123 steps. And because I’ve tried everything, I’ve done all these different things. And we’ll talk about strategies in a minute. But the main thing he said was Sybil mom, you live a life that I respect, and that I and it’s all about giving back. And so I’m modeling that behavior. And he did recognize that not everybody can have a job like mine that is, so I’m so feel so lucky. Like, that’s all I do is support people and giving to charity. I recognize that not everyone can do that. But he said, Look, no matter what you’re doing in your life, you can still give and you can still do that. So the first thing to do is look into yourself as a parent, and say to yourself, Okay, what am I doing? That’s giving back so that I can just live that. So my kids will see that. And that’s where you start thinking yourself and it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. It can you can be like, wait a minute, I have a full time job. I’ve got kids, I’m doing all this stuff. How in the world? Could I ever model any more behavior than what I’m doing by giving back? But but but this is where the strategy comes in. Okay, so the first thing is for yourself, think a lot about what it is you’re doing every day. And it’s okay, no judgment, what are you doing every day, it may not be my kind of job where all I’m doing is thinking about giving back, it might be something equally great though for you. You might be really invested. You might be teaching in school, you might be really invested in your kids school, you name it, anything you’re doing. Think a lot about that. Then also think about your hobbies and what you do in your free time. Again, no judgment, any hobby thing you like baseball, you were just talking about baseball, George. So that’s the second thing. Third thing is, what are some of the activities that make you happy as a person? So this is I’m still talking about you as the parent? What are you doing? What, you know, is there a place you’d like to go? Are there those kinds of things? And then also, the fourth thing is what keeps you up at night? What do you stress about? What are you worried about? And you know, I’ve talked about this already, many times, but I just want to emphasize that you think about those things. And all of a sudden, what you’ll start, if you write them down, you’ll start seeing these through lines. And then you can say, Okay,

I care about like, I did this exercise on myself. And what I found is I care about my family, my kids and climate change is the thing I worry about. So I say okay, well, I want to start, you know, in my day to day life, I can start doing some things, I actually gave some donations to some groups that work with kids on climate change issues. So that’s what I ended up doing. And, and then I also encouraged my kids and supported my kids when they did some of the climate work at their schools. And like, Oh, this is really cool. And then I talked to them about the climate work. And I started talking about some of those pieces a little bit more. And it’s simple things like that. It doesn’t have to be big. But then the kids noticed that and they noticed that that’s a that’s an area that they they can lean into. Now, my kids, they care about climate change, but there’s other things that they care about. And so they start I start saying to them, and I especially with my with my son, so here I am modeling the behavior that I want. And then I start saying, okay, Cody, you’re somebody who is a kid from a privileged community and a privileged background, you have a roof over your head, you have food you have you’re doing fine. You do have a responsibility to give back. I want you to tell me what you’re going to do. And so he has volunteered at a variety of places. And he’s had to do it though on his own terms, where and the things he’s volunteered for having always been things that I’ve even really worked on or thought about, and other things he has. They have been overlapping with things that I care about. But the important thing is that he is out there volunteering and helping. And as a kid, sometimes volunteering, what I find is even better for them than just giving money away. Because money, the concept of money at a younger age is a little bit different from when we get older. So instilling that in the beginning sort of volunteering, what are you going to do? The one that challenge that I’ve found is that when kids are younger than 16, it’s actually hard for them to find volunteer opportunities that don’t include the parents. And so that is something to think about when you’re trying to do this is again, if you need to be there with the kids, also, like Cody and I volunteered at Meals on Wheels for a while. And I needed to volunteer with him because I needed to be the person that was driving and doing that work. So that is another reason why it’s important if you want to instill a culture of giving in your kid that you first do your personal work, so that as you’re helping your kid navigate this, you’re not feeling like you’re going outside your own comfort zone either. So those are some, those are some strategies. And again, I love what my son said in my podcast interview with him, or he’s like, Mom, be careful not to have like, step one, step two, step three, I can’t help it, I sort of am a step person. But at the same time, I do think, you know, in summary, the key things are, one, be true to yourself, and what you want to do, no, your kids are watching you. Okay, if you really want to instill giving a giving strategy and your kids, you start you do give it you giving you do it? Well, that’s the first thing. The second thing is be careful to focus in on a giving strategy that you care about as the parent and then support the your child in figuring out of giving strategies that they care about. But since they’re watching you, it’s not gonna be that far off. And so you can do it as a partnership. And together.

george grombacher 12:12
I love it. Super powerful. Really good stuff. Why do you think he said, Don’t be so rigid with the steps? Mom? She’s going on there?

Sybill Ackerman Munson 12:22
Because he’s 17. I think, you know, he, I think he you know, I don’t watch him say, you know, because you don’t necessarily know what I’m about to say. It’s, it’s really, it was very interesting. I think that it’s because as a kid, I think it’s actually this is sort of important as a kid. And as a teenager, you sort of want to define your own. And you don’t want to feel like your parents are being formulaic. Like, okay, I am going to go through this step one, and make sure that my kid does checks X Box, because the minute you try to get your kids to check a box I’ve found, then they want to not check that box. So they want to, they love you. And they want to come to things because they because of what you’re doing. But they want it to be on their terms and where they’re at. So that’s, that’s why I think that, that he thought that way he was like you need to just sort of live your life man and be a person that high respect, and then maybe I’ll go there. I love it.

george grombacher 13:22
I think that that makes a lot of sense. I absolutely love the fact that you can’t transfer what you don’t own. So if you’re just, you know, if you never think about this stuff, and I don’t care if that’s personal finance, or if it’s giving, and then all of a sudden you start telling your kid that they need to be doing this stuff, they’re probably going to see right through it. And it’s just not going to be probably as important to them because they’ve never demonstrated it as you have and what a wonderful thing to have heard your, you know, 17 year old tell you as I’m doing this, because it’s always been so important to you and you’ve modeled this behavior. So certainly congratulations on that.

Sybill Ackerman Munson 14:03
Well, thank you for that. But I also feel like I feel like it it also, you know, everyone should give themselves a break about about this like, no one’s perfect. Right? And so, you know, I have like I said, I have I have four kids total, right? So I have three step kids. And you know, my son, this is how he approached it and how he looked at it. I would say that my three step kids will all approached it differently. They all also give back to their communities in different ways. And that’s the other thing as a parent is I think that we need to be open to how our kids are deciding to give it may or may not be actually volunteering. It might be something a little bit different. One of my kids is one of my stepkids is really interested in soccer for example and women’s soccer and she’s amazing at she’s actually follows and tracks and is writing articles on on on soccer matches and is doing really great work there. And she’s found in that journey, she’s found her own activism, because there’s a lot of activism within women’s soccer around a bunch of different issues. And so it’s not as much of a through line of okay, what grants are you going to give? Or what donations are you going to give? It’s more? How are you going to find your passion based on your own interests? Right in the same kind of process that me I, as a parent I’m doing now I’m supporting the kids as they get older to say, Okay, what’s your typical week? What do you love to do you love to report on women’s soccer? Okay, well, then you should think about that piece is something that’s important for giving back, what are your hobbies? What are the activities that make you happy? What keeps you up at night. So in the beginning, when the kids are younger, they’re modeling your their behavior off of the kind of thing you did, if you did that exercise well, and then as they get older, you can start encouraging them to think through those same four things. And then it starts transferring over to their their life and their work. And they own it, you know? So it’s this delicate dance, where you’re supporting, but they’re not imposing, and I can tell you, I am not 100% perfect at it. But I’ve tried to like really live this strongly.

george grombacher 16:19
I appreciate that very much like that. That’s an awesome perspective on it. Is there a certain age when when you start talking about it more, or encouraging them to volunteer or asking the questions?

Sybill Ackerman Munson 16:35
I think you do it all the time, whenever you can. tactfully, right? And give them space to ignore you if they need to. But always leave it open. So I, you know, one, for example, one holiday season, we gave our kids, my husband and I a little bit of money. And we said, each of you has X dollars to donate to your favorite charity. So we did that. We noticed that three out of the four kids did do that. And one of them didn’t. We did not put that kid on the spot. We just let it go. Right. But we wanted to bring that up. So we always are trying in that little little chat to put it out there as ideas. I do that also with the kids with investments. So I also talked to them about and I’ve talked to them about this, when they were really little I said, Okay, you know, you want to get ahead of the curve. If you get a job, and you put a little bit of money away each month and save it, then it’ll you’ll be even more empowered in the future to be able to do something good in the world, because you won’t then have to get a job, you have to make money. If you keep saving, then you’ll have more power over your future. And then you can give back even more. It’s some of the kids have been on that. And others have like interestingly, I brought it up a couple years ago, another one of my kids just recently said, Hey, Sybil, can I talk to you about the investing idea. So that’s the other thing is you bring it up. And even sometimes they don’t sound like they’re hearing you. And then a couple years later they will. And I want to tell you a story if it’s okay. That’s a little bit related to this, where I’m realizing where I just say things, you know, and whether the kid hears acts like they hear it or not, I’m choosing to believe that they hear me. So let me give you a story about this. We We live on a little farm in Oregon. And when we first got the farm, it’s my dream come true. I mean, oh my gosh, I every day I pinch myself when I drive into this little place. I love it so much. And when we first got it in 2014, I would drive in and my son would be in the car with me. And I’d be like, look, oh my gosh, never take this for granted. You know, and we driving in I’m like, Look at this trees and look at this and look at that. And sometimes he’d respond, but most of the time he wouldn’t. time you’d be like, looking at his phone or something else. And then like hard. But I still said something right? And then about, I don’t know, it was before COVID Because we were bringing a bunch of his guy friends over. So we’re driving a whole bunch of his guy friends over and that was when he was just talking to them and sort of forgets I’m there. And we’re driving down the driveway. And Cody goes, everyone look at those trees aren’t they pretty? Look out for the birds. They’re gonna fly in from the in the bunny rabbits. And then when we get when we get there, he’s like, let’s go down and look at the tractor. Come on everybody, and then we’ll go down to the lower four acres, we’re gonna see this and we’re gonna go here. And I was like, Oh my gosh, did hear me. So that wasn’t exactly related to the giving piece. But then I realized like with this podcast interview I did with my son about giving. He’s listening. You know, he is and we always talk about how our kids these days. They’re on their phones all the time and everything else but they are observant and they’re aware. So it makes me really feel hopeful about the next generation

george grombacher 20:00
Love it. I think that’s a perfect way to illustrate that. Even though they feel like they’re you feel like they’re not listening or even tuning you out some of the time some of the stuff does actually make its way in through the, through the brain. Not exactly,

Sybill Ackerman Munson 20:13
exactly. That’s awesome.

george grombacher 20:17
Well, Sybil, thank you so much for coming back on. I appreciate it. Where can people learn more about you? Tell us where they can find the show. Where can they find the courses? All of it?

Sybill Ackerman Munson 20:27
Yeah, well, my courses are launched. And I did it. So that mini courses so that it’s really easy bite sized courses, so that you can easily access them and just get onto my website, which is, your So it’s do your good. And my my podcasts are on any streaming channel that you usually listen to. And that’s also under do your good. And then I’m on Instagram and Facebook, and LinkedIn. And so it’d be happy to chat more with any of your listeners if they’re interested in talking and it’s just been such a delight to be here today. Thanks, George.

george grombacher 21:04
Yeah, always awesome to talk with you. Yeah, well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did, show simple your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to do your good calm and check out those great mini courses Sybil has up check out the do your good podcast wherever you listen your podcast. You can find her on social media as well with all those in the notes of the show. Thanks again Sybil.

Sybill Ackerman Munson 21:28
Thank you so much, George.

george grombacher 21:30
And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

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