We all want our kids to be mindful of their blessings and to be generous, but it can be hard to find concrete ways in which to achieve those goals. Here are some suggestions to get the kids involved in making a difference in their community through charitable giving.
Make Charitable Giving Part of Their Allowance
In The Opposite of Spoiled, New York Times “Your Money” columnist Ron Lieber suggests that when we give our children allowance, it should be separated into three jars: To Spend, To Save and To Share. This tip for financial literacy evens the balance between using money for pleasure, saving prudently, and giving money to causes we support. Whether the allowance is $2 or $20, the same principle applies: we can always afford to save and to share.
Put the Money in Their Hands
Giving kids the funds is only the beginning to teaching them about charitable giving; you have to let them choose how to spend it. You may not agree with their choices, but it’s their money now. Let them make their own choices and their own mistakes.
Donations to many charitable organizations are matched by the government. Do the same with your child’s charitable contribution. You demonstrate support of his or her initiative, you demonstrate the power of being a positive role model, and you double its impact.
Empower Enquiring Minds
Research is an important piece of the puzzle. Set specific research tasks for your child to accomplish. If you want to donate to a cause that supports Syrian refugees, how can you get matching donations? The Canadian Government has a site for that. If you want to help the homeless, how can you find out what shelters most need? The City of Toronto has a site that can tell you. Go online and find the wishlists published by your local charities. Teach your kids to ask about how monies are disbursed. What percentage goes to the recipient? What percentage goes to overhead costs? In this way, you not only demonstrate the importance of giving, but of giving prudently.
Use On-Line Services for Fundraisers
There are more and more online services that make giving easy. Echoage is an online party-planning tool that allows you to collect funds for birthday gifts. Echoage has a wide range of invitation templates, and built into the invitation is a secure way for guests to make a donation. Half of the money goes to the child to spend on one gift for himself, the other half goes to a charity of his choice.
FlipGive is a fundraising tool that allows you to raise money by shopping online. For every dollar spent at participating retailers like, Indigo, Starbucks, Under Armour and Nike, between 5 and 50% is donated to the organization or charity of your choice.
Use Their Talents and Abilities
When a classmate was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year, one of my son’s friends set up a lemonade stand to raise money to buy meals for her family and to donate to the hospital where she was being treated. The turnout was enormous, and the initiative was a huge success. The kids were in Grade 1, and this was a way they felt they could match their desire to help with a fundraiser that they were capable of running. (She is well and back at school!) When I asked my kids to think of ways to contribute funds to welcome Syrian refugees to Canada, I asked them to think about their own abilities. What could they do on their own to make a contribution? They remembered this lemonade stand and suggested a wintery version: a hot chocolate stand at the park. Perfect. One also suggested making comics to sell. That’s an ambitious scope of work, so we agreed on illustrating gift tags to sell. A small, achievable and timely way to put his talents to use for a good cause.
Plenty More on Volunteering as a Family