How the first Fun Future For All bank REALLY came to be
In 2013, a little girl named Orly was given a bank to save money to give back to others. As a four year old, Orly’s understanding of charity was understandably limited: She and her parents had packed up toys before to give to boys and girls, so she knew that there were kids out there who didn’t have toys. When her mom told her they would be saving money for other people using a charity bank, Orly took it as - we’re going to save money to buy more toys for kids out there who need them.
At four years old, Orly's parents were happy enough with that. Jolee and Amiel both believed it was important to instill the value of philanthropy in their daughter, though she was still young, and toys would do for now. They decorated her charity bank-since Orly likes to 'decorate' everything- left it out on the kitchen counter, and regularly contributed to it. There was no ongoing conversation, just a family ritual of putting money in the bank 'to help other people'. Again, it seemed good enough for the time being.
A few months passed and Orly slowed down her contributions to the bank and started asking about saving up for a toy for herself instead. Jolee told her that was OK, as long as she remembered to also contribute to the charity bank.
Orly said, "Nah, I think the boys and girls have enough toys."
It was one of those icky moments when you know that even though you want to keep them innocent forever, you have to let your kid in on a sad reality. Jolee gently told her that unfortunately, there were boys and girls who needed things much more important than toys, like the things they truly needed. And those things cost money, like food and clothes. Did she know that there were some kids who didn't have a house to sleep in every night?
Orly heard, processed, and then looked up at her mom and said, “That’s just silly, Mommy.”
Knowing they needed to have a much bigger talk, Jolee went to get back up. The next morning, she ran to the store and got a bunch of those fun colorful duck tapes that Orly loved since they seemed to give her a magical amount of patience whenever she used to them make a project. While they decorated a used cardboard soda sleeve with the tape, they spoke about the differences between needing and wanting things. Specifically, how there are things that all people need, and that the majority of stuff all around us are just stuff we want.
It took a while, and a lot of questions, but Orly started to realize just how lucky she and her parents were to have the things they needed. She also learned that the whole work thing her mom and dad did wasn't just so they could keep busy during the day- it helped them get the things that their family needed, as well as some of the things they wanted. And, when there was something new they wanted- like when they moved from an apt to a house- it took setting a goal and saving for it.
Next, using the “give, get, save” concept, they separated the box into three sections and made slits on top to turn it into a bank. The ‘get’ part was easy to discuss - what’s a toy you want to save up for? Orly was quick to talk about the (overpriced) green stuffed animal bird she had seen at the airport. To make it more real to Orly, her mom had her draw a picture of the bird and put on the first section.
Saving up and being fiscally responsible instead of saving for a short term green airport bird would be a challenging concept to describe, so they focused on something that Orly could understand. Jolee asked her Orly what she wanted to be when she grew up, and explained that being a bird doctor meant vet school, lots of books and lots of bird watching trips. Those things made tangible sense to Orly vs saving money for the sake of having savings. She drew a picture of her as a bird doctor (think stick figure with a parrot on its shoulder) and put it on the middle section.
After their talk earlier about need vs wanting things, the last section of the bank about giving back came about pretty easily to Orly. She wanted to use that section to save up for all the kids who didn’t have the things they needed, like food, warm clothes and a home.
Using a sharpie, they scribbled on the top of the bank Fun, Future, and For All. Orly began contributing to all three sections of her bank and when they filled up, she purchased her fun toy, put money in the bank for her future, and donated money to an organization to help those less fortunate. Then she made new pictures and started saving all over again.
Orly’s “Fun” and “Future” changed many times, and the soda sleeve bank needed a lot of new duck tape each time it was opened and resealed. Her second “Fun” was a red bird from the airport to match the green one. Her second “future” was being a swimming teacher. The pictures are all dated and named and cataloged right behind her current savings goals – providing her with a history of how her interests and understanding of those in need have changed over time.
The decision to make Fun Future For All banks available to other families (minus the duck tape) was made after Orly changed her “For All” for the first time. She came home from preschool one day and told her parents that her class was going to help kids who have a hard time learning by raising money for their special school. Orly asked, “Can I make that my new For All?”