What a Lemonade Stand Can Teach us About Philanthropy

Emanuel 9 families

Summer brings out pop-up lemonade stands in my neighborhood.  Eager children greet me, offer a cup of lemonade and, sometimes, homemade cookies, then make change from a small stash of cash held in a colorful basket.  This simple interaction is an opportunity to experience the combination of enterprise and idealism that can power philanthropy in our communities.

Philanthropy Strengthens Communities

The neighborhood lemonade stand turns an ordinary street corner into a community gathering place.  I know a stand has popped up when I see dogs, kids, parents, bikes and wagons gathered around a folding table and handmade sign.  The philanthropy that often comes from these homegrown enterprises also has community-building impact.  This was the case for the kids who recently raised $3,000 at their stand for the Emanuel 9 families.

Think of a community foundation as a grown-up lemonade stand.  As a local center of philanthropy in the community, the RSF Foundation gathers individuals, families, nonprofits, businesses – and you can bring your dog – around needs and opportunities that we are able to address more effectively together than most of us can individually.

Philanthropy Expresses Vision and Passion

We often are inspired by the enterprise and idealism that we see in the young entrepreneurs of the lemonade stand.  Their vision of how to meet a need and improve the world in some tangible way moves them to take action, to do something about it. They care enough to try to make a difference, even if it is a small step.  The Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation shows just how far a vision can go, starting with just one lemonade stand. This organization has been fighting childhood cancer for 15 years.

Philanthropy Grows Up With Us

Do you want to recapture some of the idealism that prompted your lemonade stand enterprise when you were a child?

The initiative that prompted us to start a lemonade stand when we were children may grow into considerable charitable giving during our lifetime and become the motivation later in life to leave a legacy for our favorite charity or cause.  Perhaps we want to establish a memorial fund to honor a significant person in our lives or endow a nonprofit for a sustainable future.  In these ways, the idealism of our younger selves that sought to make a small difference becomes the fully informed and intentional charitable giving that transforms the world.