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Developing Philanthropic Children

Posted by at Jun 12, 2008 04:24 PM CDT
Categories: Fundraising, Nonprofit Trends, Volunteerism

This Sunday is Father’s Day.  As the proud parent of a 4 year old I can honestly say that I have learned a lot about being a parent.  Some things I intuitively knew how to do.  Other things I had to learn along the way.  And in hindsight there are probably a few things I wish I would have done differently. 

This got me thinking.  As parents we’re continually learning, but what are we teaching our kids?  If things like giving are a learned behavior, what are we doing as parents to actively teach our children about the importance of philanthropy?

Sure, any parent who has lived through the terrible twos can attest that a certain amount of self-focus is natural among children this age.  However, despite the tantrums, and the “it’s mine” and the “I want” children are amazingly aware that there is a broader world around them.  Since they're paying attention to our lead, I think the key to raising a giving child starts with being part of a giving family.

Here are a couple of easy ways to get your children involved:

  • Create family rituals around philanthropy.  Help children identify causes that they can relate to and feel passionate about.  Then give your children a say as to which charities you’re going to support as a family each year.  It could be making a financial contribution, participating in a food drive, or simply donating a book to the local library.
  • There is power in children helping children.  Children have a natural empathy for other children and want to contribute to those in need.  For example, started by a child as a front yard operation, Alex’s Lemonade Stand grew into a national charity raising over $5 million for kids with cancer.  See more child founded charities here:  http://www.kidzworld.com/article/6444-child-founded-charities
  • Frequent businesses that support charitable giving.  Dropping your loose change in the giving box during a visit to McDonalds is an easy way to keep year round giving top of mind for your children.
  • Help your kids design and decorate a giving jar separate from their piggy bank.  Offer to match a portion of your child’s allowance towards a contribution to an organization or cause of their choosing.
  • When there is a drive for canned goods, new school supplies, or unwrapped toys, have your child pick out what to purchase and donate. Make sure your child understands the item(s) are not for him/her to keep.

Providing positive examples to our children will help them become passionate about giving, show them that their actions can make a difference, and form a meaningful connection to a larger world.

Reply to this post with any examples you use with your kids, or programs your NPO has to help parents educate their kids about the importance of giving back.

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