That´s the formula that´s working for the Harry Potter Alliance: Channel enthusiasm into a force for good. Founded in 2005, this community minded fan club has 100.000 active members organized into 90 volunteer chapters. To date they´ve donated more than 90,000 books to developing countries, sent 5 cargo planes of aid to Haiti, and worked to prevent genocide and promote fair trade chocolate (one of Harry´s favorite treats.)
“Did you ever wish that Harry Potter was real? Well it kind of is”. The Alliance website immediately captures the imagination, then enables fans to tap into their inner Dumbledore, Hermoine, and of course Harry Potter. One college chapter modeled a clothing drive for Goodwill after Harry Potter character Hermoine´s sock campaign to free a House Elf… and the donations came pouring in.
“See all of the energy that´s already there. Then imagine taking that excitement and harnessing it toward social good” says HP Alliance founder Andrew Slack. In March he used that same thinking to motivate fans of the Hunger Games to join Oxfam international to work to end hunger off the screen with a “Hunger is not a Game” campaign.
How can you apply Harry Potter thinking to get the young people in your family excited about philanthropy? The first step is identifying and appreciating (not belittling) the source of their enthusiasm, whatever it is. Then, build on it. Like the Alliance, help them “hone the magic of their creativity in endeavoring to make the world a better place”.
If your daughter leaves and breathes animals, make sure she gets a chance to advocate that your family fund the local animal shelter. And help her get creative if your family foundation´s requires grants go to combat poverty. Maybe she could research emergency pet care options that help avoid a person who´s homeless staying on the streets or a senior not asking for help because they are worried about what will happen to their pet.
Does another daughter love to row crew? Maybe she´ll get jazzed up about a program that helps all kids to get free water safety classes. Or if your family´s philanthropic focus is the environment, she might get excited about helping local lake conservancies beef up their campaigns against milfoil.
After all, as Slack says, “We all yearn to be told we are magical”, right? What could be more magical than experiencing that you and your family CAN really help make the world a better place… even as muggles!