How to raise charitable kids

Written by Lauren Janus on 22nd May 2018

It’s National Fundraising Week. What did you give this week? Let us know @goodmoneygirl 

#tsfrw18


From ‘throw-away fashion’ to competitive eating festivals, excess abounds in modern life. At a time when the gulf between global rich and poor continues to widen, how do you raise kids who think about giving as much as getting?

Not surprisingly, the research says that one of the best ways to instill a habit of giving in your children is to give yourself. But here’s the important part, especially if you have sonsyou need to intentionally talk with your kids about charitable giving if you want them to grow up to give themselves.

While girls are more likely to give as adults just by having watched their parents give, boys especially need to be “actively socialised” into the practice of giving. This means talking to and involving your kids in your giving throughout their childhood and adolescence.

Here’s how to start:

  • Expose them to need. Most kids live in bubbles encompassing their homes, schools and not much else. Unless you live in a particularly diverse area, your kids probably don’t have friends who’ve gone hungry or have struggled much in life.

Instead of marching them down to the nearest homeless shelter to serve up hot dinners, try introducing your kids to issues first. Watch the news and documentaries together and talk about the obstacles people are facing. If your kids are younger, read stories like The Can Man and watch videos about other kids living through difficult times. UNICEF has some powerful short YouTube videos like this one about life in a refugee camp through the eyes of a little boy.

  • Talk about what giving means. After you’ve explored some issues together, start talking about what it means to help. Donating money is one way to be charitable, but volunteering or just being kind to others who are struggling is important, too.

Tell your kids about situations where you’ve helped a neighbour or lived without something you wanted so that someone else could benefit. Point out particularly generous or charitable people and praise them in front of your kids.

If your children are older, get explicit and write out the charities you give to and volunteer for regularly. Show them the list and talk with them about why you choose those organisations.

  • Give as a family. Ask your kids to help you come up with ways you can give as a family. Bake sales are fine, but kids tend to get so caught up in the sweet treats they forget who the money is going to help.

Look for richer opportunities to give, like organising regular litter pick-ups, visits to the elderly and perhaps inviting a disabled neighbour on a family trip to the cinema.

When kids spend an afternoon picking up litter or chatting with a lonely octogenarian, they may not rave about the experience, but they do feel good about themselves. Use the experience as a springboard for deciding which related charities you can support as a family.

Great charities to start with are ones where kids can pick who or what to support. Microlending sites like Kiva.org and Deki.org.uk are easy to navigate and you can support a specific small business owner with as little as £20.  If you want to empower your teen a bit, try giving her a Kiva gift card. She can search the site on her own, make a loan and then do it all again when the loan is repaid. Bonus points if you get her to talk with you about who she choose to give to and why.

Conclusion

Raising children to value charitable giving isn’t difficult. But you do need to be intentional about it. The good news is that giving is a fantastic activity for families with kids of any age.

Sign up to our weekly newsletter

Get better with money, in every way.