The holiday season and year’s end motivate many people to give charitably, whether by donating money to a specific cause, volunteering at a local food bank, or providing gifts to families in need, as examples. However, teaching your children the meaning behind giving, and instilling philanthropy as a family value can be done throughout the year. We offer suggestions on how to go about teaching charitable giving to your youngsters and teens.
Understanding Why Giving Is Important
To understand why giving is important, kids must comprehend that need exists. If your children don’t see a variety of neighborhoods, cultures, and ways of life on a regular basis, make a point to discuss differences and the fact that there are many people in need throughout the community, country and world. Better yet, take the time to show them. Kids of all ages can recognize the difference when they see run-down schools and playgrounds. Instead of going to a restaurant, bring kids to a soup kitchen and explain the role they play in the community.
Teaching Family Values, Including Charitable Values
It’s never too early (or too late) to start talking to your kids about the values important to your family and how supporting those values parlays into giving. Which causes resonate with your family, and why? Perhaps a cause relates to a personal family experience, or a health matter of someone you love. Maybe it’s a broader concern in your community (local, national or abroad). Whatever the reason is, explain why your charitable beliefs are near and dear to your heart. Also discuss whether your family will donate money, time, or personal items.
As your kids age, involve them in the process of deciding which organizations to help so that they feel more of a connection aligned with both your family values and their personal beliefs.
How to Teach Charitable Giving Actions by Age
- Giving Coin Jars
When kids are young, a family coin jar is an easy way to show them how small donations add up quickly. Parents should model putting loose change in the jar at the end of the day. Kids can add their own coins or even the penny they found on the sidewalk. Once the jar is full, family members decide together where the money should go.
- Giving Part of Your Allowance
As children mature and begin to receive an allowance, parents can introduce the concepts of spending, saving, and sharing. Kids and parents together can decide how much of their allowance to set aside for a charity of their choice. When donating money, help your child make sure the organization is reputable (Charity Navigator) and find out exactly what the money will be used for.
- Charitable Gifts of Belongings
As kids grow, it’s important that they learn the value of giving things away. They can decide which toys they want to share with someone less fortunate. As they outgrow their clothes, they can donate them to other children in need. Perhaps the most important aspect of giving material items is engaging your kids in the process. Bring your kids with you to the donation site so they can see exactly where their items are going and who they are helping.
Giving doesn’t have to come solely in the form of tangible items, or of monetary value. Volunteering is a great family activity and it deepens the connection that children have with the causes they are helping. If your child loves animals, go to an animal shelter and find out what needs they have. Kids passionate about the environment can organize a neighborhood clean-up. Families that want to support food banks can organize a food drive at school or in their community.
Direct involvement instills compassion and generosity in kids. It’s also key to helping them fully comprehend why giving is so important.
Looking for a unique gift catalog that shows kids how one monetary contribution can become a long-term investment in viability for a family? Check out Heifer International.
Many religious organizations offer opportunities for children and families to support others, domestically and internationally.
Local groups often provide a comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities for all ages in the community. Volunteer Fairfax lets you search by age of participant and type of project.
SageVest Wealth Management, the provider of this site, frequently guides clients in charitable giving strategies. We care about the families we work with, the causes they wish to support, and the values they wish to instill.