Kickstart Giving with your Kids
My friends have been asking for simple tips on how to encourage giving with their kids. As with most things in life, there’s no magic formula. There’s also no shortage of online advice for teaching generosity and kindness to kids. I’ve summarized some of my favorite sites below for your scanning pleasure. My biggest piece of advice as a mom of a three- and five-year-old is just start doing something. Remember, kids have hawk eyes . . . so one day, when you least expect it, they just might model the behavior you’re trying to teach.
Let’s Talk About Giving
As we all know, kids believe the world revolves around them. So talk to them about how their actions will impact others. Keep it simple, though. There’s no need to be preachy about it. For example, you could say, “When we raise money for XYZ nonprofit, the money will go to kids who need medicine so they will get healthy.” Or, “When you donate your toys to kids who don’t have any, they will be able to have fun like you did when you played with them.” Being specific will have more of an impact than saying, “We’re giving because it’s the right thing to do.” Both are true, but it’s best if you can help your kids relate.
Side note: If your kid appears to be unphased by your efforts to spark giving (i.e., there are no empathic, teary eyes or follow-up questions), don’t worry. This doesn’t mean they’re uninterested or uncaring. Giving can be a foreign concept at first. . . . Just keep at it. (Try to avoid guilting them into it, though, and keep it fun!) Like many things in life, consistency leads to lifelong habits.
For more tips and information about how to talk to your kids about giving, here’s a link to a great PBS article.
Get Them Involved
If they are old enough, let your kid(s) pick the nonprofit they want to help. Brainstorm ideas with them and see which one sparks an interest. (For example, if they are obsessed with animals, pick an animal shelter, or if they are into geography, pick a country like Peru and sponsor a child.)
Family volunteering, as logistically complicated as it might seem, is totally worth the effort. Kids remember it. Whether it’s a clean-up drive or planting trees, there’s something out there for your crew. (Side note: November 22 is Family Volunteer Day. If you need ideas for a project in your area, use the zip code search at the bottom of this site.)
This generation of kids is all about the visuals. That’s why they foam at the mouth to get access to our phones and iPads. Use videos as a learning tool, especially when you’re trying to illustrate issues or needs in other countries. For example, this simple water project includes a smart video that shows how similar kids are—despite being several airline flights away.
Six Easy Giving Ideas for Kids
I borrowed a few ideas from this awesome list from Generation On called 65 Ways to Make a Difference. It’s all simple stuff. Try one out if you haven’t already.
- Instead of birthday party gifts, ask your friends to bring books or art supplies that you can donate to a local homeless shelter or other local youth nonprofit.
- Love baking? Bake cupcakes or cookies, sell them to friends and neighbors, and donate the proceeds.
- If you have a membership to a science museum or zoo, and have extra passes, invite a friend who might not financially be able to visit, to come with you.
- Feed your furry friends . . . and then drop off an extra bag of food at the local animal shelter.
- Got old sports equipment? Bring it to your local parks and recreation center or another nonprofit that works with youth.
- Before Santa comes, gather old toys and donate them to make way for new ones. Or, even better, encourage your kids to limit their wish list and then adopt a family in need with the money you’ll save. Your kids can pick out a toy for a child who’s a similar age.