When I was a kid, Lucy the Elephant, was in a state of disrepair. A community group worked hard to get her placed on the historic register and raise money to restore her to her mid-century glory. How? Bake sales organized by my third grade teacher, Josephine Harron, nicknamed "Cupcake." Sitting by next to my mom in the kitchen, I mixed up a lot of cupcake batter and icing with my mom for those bake sales.
Now a parent with my own children, I involve my kids in when I'm fundraising for Cambodia or Creative Commons, But it doesn't involve baking cupcakes. We have dinner table discussions on why it is important to support causes, particularly programs in Cambodia like the Sharing Foundation. My kids have posed for photos in t-shirts, emptied their piggy banks, helped me make fundraising videos, contributed clothing or other items to drives at school, and have attended lots of fund raising events.
I also want to them to discover and follow their own sense of social activism. Last winter, after Harry and I had a conversation about global warming (and quite a conversation it was for a then eight-year old), and we collaborated on a series of green videos. As Ryanne Hodson points out, making media together helps kids learn about the issue as well as the technology.
My kids have become more and more interested in playing video games. And like Suzanne Seggerman who plays video games with her daughter, I will play video games with my son and daughter. And while video games like Zoo Tycoon or online games can teach them all sorts of skills that they will need to be successful adults (and this has been validated recently by a MacArthur Foundation funded study,) I was excited to discover this wonderful list of games for change.
This new genre of video games are about solving real world problems such as environment, global hunger, poverty and disease. What a great way to teach your children to become more thoughtful and responsible about the world we live in. Amy Jussel of Shaping Youth Blog shared a story of how she and her daughter played the Freerice game, a quiz-style vocabulary builder that rewards correct answers with ten grains per bowl to feed hungry children, distributed by the U.N.’s World Food Programme. Not only was her daughter able to contribute to a good cause by playing a game, the experience also brought up a ethical dilemma.
I reached out to my readers for suggestions about how to raise more charitable and socially aware children. Here's some inspiring stories, tips and resources:
Some Inspirational Stories
Last week I wrote the Columbus Foundation's recently launhced Match Day 2.0, a giving stimulus plan created to matching gifts to PowerPhilanthropy organizations and raise $1 million in 48 hours to support local needs in their community. They beat their own record, according to Lucy Bernholz, on November 18 they used up their entire match fund in 34 minutes, processed 650 gifts in the first 17 minutes alone and 1,000 gifts in 40 minutes.
One of their donors was a class of kindergarteners at the Berwick Alternative Elementary School. The class of 27 students have been collecting pennies and donated $100 to Ohio Nature Education, a nonprofit offering environmental education programs, and secured $150 for the organization.
Angela Stockman, an educator and blogger in upstate New York, told me about how Sarah Hanson from Alden High School and Stacy VanEtten's seventh grade class are participating in the Working Together 2 Make A Difference project. Says Angela, "Stacy is a self-proclaimed techno-phobe, but has waded into blogging with her students, who are very excited about their project." The Charity for Change project is another example where charitable giving is embedded in the curriculum.
Ed Nicholson from Tyson Foods pointed to two excellent examples of young girl who raised money for hunger relief by asking her friends to donate money to host a mobile food pantry. Here's another story, about teenage boy who started with a small project to raised money for the local food pantry his first year and then rallied his community to raise $20,000 for hunger organizations. Network Solutions partnered with a 12-year old Connor who was raising money for hunger by selling popcorn. They created the Popcorn For Kids Campaign.
Parenting Tips To Encourage Your Child's Philanthropy
1. Help Them Learn More About Nonprofits: YouthGive is a site that helps young peole and their families easily donate to charities while learning more about the organizations. The organizations listed are profiled by other young people.
2. Let Your Kids Choose: Kayta Andresen from Network for Good has fantastic idea last holiday season, "Give with your kids day" She suggests giving your child or someone else's child $25 to donate to a charity. "You can give them money to spend at Network for Good (which has every charity based in the US) or Global Giving (which has a bunch of international projects). Let them choose how to spend it, either by letting them pick the charity or by designating their donation to a special project. Spend it together online, checking out pictures and project descriptions."
3. Offer a Match: Blogger Marion Conway,whose children are now grown, recommended the book Raising Charitable Children by Carol Wiseman. With her children's fundraising projects, she and her husband offered to match what they raised because they both worked for companies that matching gift programs.
4. Set up a Spend, Give, and Save Allowance Policy: Celeste for the studio 501c3 blog suggests this piggy bank, with separate slots for investing, saving, spending, and donating is a great way to teach kids about devoting a portion of their income to
5. Encourage Them To Give Their Time: Laura Hecht shared a wonderful story about a class project where students made cards for some elderly residents of a group home. They had to work hard to spare the time for the effort, but when the residents wrote moving letters of thanks, the kids felt great. As Laura notes, "This prompted a sincere discussiona bout giving the most valuable thing we possess - ourselves."
What other stories, tips, or resources would you add to this post?