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Hans

Compelling post - if we can not only give, but also pass down this value to our children, then our legacy of change in the world will outlive us.

In my house my wife donated her hair to Locks of Love which sparked a conversation with our 4 year old about children that are in need.

My family is also involved in a small charity that helps send children to summer camps.

So we model the values that we hope our children will emulate, and support charities that our kids can see connections to.

I'll make a more institutionally minded post as well, but those are my personal thoughts for now. Great topic - thanks!

Hans

Here's a link to my thoughts on encouraging more higher order moral action from young people, cheers.

celeste w, studio 501c

This transparent "Money Savvy Pig," with separate slots for investing, saving, spending, and donating is a great way to teach kids about devoting a portion of their income to charity: http://www.msgen.com/assembled/money_savvy_pig.html.

Another great way to teach kids about charity is to engage them in buying or donating something that they are familiar with--toys! At www.Ableplay.org, kids can research toys that are appropriate for kids with disabilities, and then buy and donate one to a local hospital, school, or day care center (perhaps after asking the staff at the center about what is most needed in terms of the age range, or disability of the children who would play with the toy).

Shaping Youth

In the consumption junction of a 'gimme more' society, we try to instill empathy, gratitude, and perspective early and often at Shaping Youth. We try to tap into kids' passions, and spin it from there...

Here's a piece I wrote called Digital Activism: Kids Stump for Change for WWF/Earth Day: http://www.shapingyouth.org/blog/?p=360

And here are some 'tried and true' ones from my firsthand personal life:

For the holidays, we hosted a kindergarten "angel" party, (complete w/kids dress-ups/white boas/feathery wings)

They were 'angel donors' for families in need, depositing their unwrapped toys and gifts as admittance to the fun...They made 'angel wishes' for those less fortunate (to earn their mark of an angel/in glittery fairy dust) ate angel hair pasta, made angel ornaments and crafts to donate, you get the drill; basically 'giving rather than receiving wrapped in a party theme.'

Now my daughter's close to a teen so we've segued to more complex themes:

Passion for fashion? Know where your clothes come from, pull back the curtain on child labor overseas...Love animals? 'Pause for a cause' and recycle blankets/winter wish list items for the critters at the shelter, same goes for kids/youth homeless on the streets...

All depends on the child's tolerance for grit and reality. (ladybugfoundation.ca has a great site for enabling kids to relate to the homeless plight in a less scary way)

I've found you have to follow kids' leads to enroll them in THEIR passions, not necessarily yours...

Whether it's sneakers to be recycled into rubberized playground padding, 'one warm coat,' or a turnkey national gig like 'sight night' collecting old Rx glasses to send to third world countries to be repurposed for kids to SEE (super easy w/downloadable printables to tip off neighbors in advance that you'll be 'trick or treating' for used/Rx glasses) it really helps to ‘show and tell’ by finding sites/programs that ‘bring it on home’ so they can SEE the beneficiaries. (In this case the sponsors have "Give the gift of sight" everpresent in their Lion's Clubs/Lenscrafters visuals, stories, etc. so you can see the end users...poignant)

Overall? We try to keep it relevant for THEIR world, at their age, so they can relate and experience joy...(works much better than the ol’ guilt trip of “people are starving in xyz mode”)

Hopefully they'll learn to love giving from the get go and develop appreciation early on...

Roxana Gheorghe

It is an interesting subject because generosity is a characteristic typical to all cultures, ages, races and people. Parents and relatives are the best role model for their kids in sharing generosity, that is, generosity is passed on from generation to generation.

I am a VOLUNTEER for the Partnership for Student Advancement (PSA). PSA helps financially underprivileged high school students, particularly minorities, identify and pursue a career path of their choice. We're committed to assisting students to achieve professional success and personal fulfillment, as well as to building tomorrow's workforce: A PATHWAY TO CAREER ENLIGHTENMENT.

As a Marketing Professional, I decided to take this opportunity to make an impact on these children’s lives by offering my time and expertise. I found this organization a wonderful vehicle through which people offer their generosity, a trait common to all cultures and all religions. My work here is exciting and fun! Besides getting great personal satisfaction, I socialize, network, and make new friends.

Is there anyone else who could help? WE would appreciate it. Please visit our website at www.psapartnership.org.

Thank you and I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Katie

Awesome question -- as a kiddo my parents instilled the importance of giving to others by having us give 10% of our allowance (and later on our earning from PT jobs) to Church and/or a charity of our choice. We honestly weren't really given a choice on the whole tithing thing, but it was our family culture to take joy in supporting causes we believed in and helping the people in our community grow -- so it really became second nature.

My family also did a lot of those 'adopt a kid' programs which was, in a selfish way, even more gratifying b/c we'd get photos, artwork and letters = lots of warm fuzzies.

We also had a Christmas where instead of giving each other gifts, we sponsored a family and bought them presents instead. That was one of the best holidays we had, as we spent it being even more thoughtful about gift purchases (they were for someone else after all...) and spent the time we normally would have been tearing off wrapping paper cooking, laughing and sharing stories.

So basically, what it came to was creating a family culture where giving and being charitable was not only promoted and smiled upon, but recognized as a regular activity we did on our own and as a familial unit.

My own kiddo is too young to understand all this yet, but we intend to raise her in a similar way -- as a compassionate and generous person. This will hopefully drive her to sharing her resources, gifts and talents on her own when she is older without a second thought.

Amy Sample Ward

I think it is incredibly important to always offer alternatives ways of giving, after all, many nonprofits can do amazing things with a couple more volunteers. We all have something to give, even if it isn't money. Time, enthusiasm, expertise, skills...it is important to keep all of these things in mind when choosing a group to support and how to support them.

katrin

Five things:

1. Talk about politics (small 'p'!) and justice and equity and human rights and poverty and wealth with your kids. Discuss news with them, take them places where there is poverty and injustice and witness and talk about it. Not hard these days.

2. Talk about, read about, and surround yourself and speak with inspired people and their work who are making the world a better place. Name your children after them.

3. Never, ever use the word 'charity.'

3. Our allowance policy: 1/3 for spending as you wish, 1/3 for savings, and 1/3 to give wherever you wish (and yes, grit teeth if it's for 'charity').

4. Always, always, always remember and hold dear what a memorable Haitian woman said in Creole after her sister died for lack of a simple blood infusion: Tout moun se moun, tout moun se moun - We're all human beings, we're all human beings.

Neha

Hey Beth!

Depending on the age of the child, I think there are two fundamental things that a parent has to explain to introduce a young person to charity.
Appreciation - allow a child to make a list of all the things they are thankful for.
Charity - then explain to them that there are some children or people who do not have these things, so encourage the child to share some of the things they appreciate.

In my opinion, I think Toys for Tots is a great way to introduce children to charity. For the holidays, instead of asking for a toy for themselves, encourage your child to pick something out that they would like another child to have!

Kay

I think that learning about other children's problems is one way to teach kids why we need to help others. Where I work -- Church World Service -- we have developed a children's curriculum series – Build a Better World - that teaches kids about children from other parts of the world and their struggles to build a better life. The activities in this curriculum provide many examples on ways they can help. Plus we provide other opportunities for children to fund raise – CROP Hunger Walks and CWS Kits, for example – that incorporate learning into the act of giving. There are alot of ways to keep kids involved in the fund raising process. http://www.buildabetterworld.org

Tom Durso

What a terrific post. As a former nonprofit worker and current dad, I'm very interested in seeing how everyone answers this. I haven't done enough to teach my 6-year-old about giving to help others (she's already about the most empathetic kid imaginable), so I'm hoping to get some tips here. Thanks for the idea, Beth!

Stephanie Hart

Hi Beth,
I am inspired by your persuit of this cause. I have recently had a strong drive to create a resource (or clearinghouse for lack of a better term) for parents and schools to locate venues for kids to contribute. I have been a teacher for 23 years, a parent for 13 and
have seen firsthand the reprocussions of the "entitlement" factor with which we have been raising our kids. I see much empathy in the kids of today, yet I do not see a constructive outlet for it.
With all the talent, energy and willingness many of our kids exhibit,we should be tapping this resource to help those in need, help our environment and communities so as to help these kids feel good about themselves for being a value to society and themselves.
I was raised with church youthgroups and girlscouts which offered many opportunities for outreach. I have chosen not to raise my kids within the strict confines of my church, and have had to expend effort looking for these opportunities for my own kids. Luckily, as a teacher, there are needy kids in my school to whom my own kids can offer their gently used items. We adopt a family every holiday season etc. For the Thanksgiving holiday my daughter joined her friend's church youth group and has had great pleasure in distributing the applesauce they made for the shut-in elderly folks. What she enjoyed most was not the making of the 60 gallons of sauce in the church kitchen with all her friends on a Saturday afternoon, but rather the stories she heard as she sat down in the apartment of a 92 yr old woman and listened to this woman share her life with someone. My daughter felt good about being that "someone". Something tells me a lot of other kids would have too.
Like many other middle - upper middle class families raising kids, we know they need nothing more, but we keep buying them the newest Ipods and cell phones and Playstations. What messages are we sending them?
Last week my daughter attended her friend's birthday pool party and was requested to bring, in leau of gifts, a bag of donations for the women's shelter. Kudos to the moms who invited 45 kids to the party and didn't want 45 ($30-$50) Abercrombie gift cards.
As generous as 2 packed Escalades of contributions was, it was still the kids' parents purchasing the items. Where does the charity from the kids' own hearts come into play?
We have got to shift our paradigms regarding kids capabilities. We need to make room for kids to become stakeholders in the upkeep of our communities. They have talents,skills,enthusiasm, eagerness, a certain level of responsibility are very caring and have a need, as do all humans, to feel that feeling one only gets through giving from that place in their hearts that needs nothing in return. With all this going for them, I feel it is incumbant upon us adults to hook them up. I am going to look into doing this. If you have any suggestions, please forward them to me.
Thank you.

Stephanie Hart

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