Raising Do-Gooders: How to Inspire Kids to Give

Posted

teach kids to donateTeaching kids to be charitable shouldn’t be reserved just for the holidays. Instead, you can instill philanthropic values all year-round, starting as early as ages three or four and continuing through the teen years (when kids are notoriously more in the “gimmee” stage).

In fact, it’s actually good for kids of all ages.

“It’s actually been proven scientifically that giving increases self-esteem and self-confidence,” says Nancy Phillips, founder and president of DollarSmartKids Enterprises, Inc. and creator of Zela Wela kids books. “By witnessing their ability to help others locally or globally, kids realize they have the power to make a positive difference.”

RELATED: Money Mic: Why I Give 10% of My Salary to Charity

Here are some tips to help you raise do-gooders, starting today:

1. Start at the right age.

Kids are natural givers, says Phillips, so start teaching them about charitable donations between the ages of three and five. “They are very generous in their formative years, so that’s the perfect time to start teaching them that giving comes first,” she says. Even before they’re old enough for an allowance, parents can discuss how money can be used to help others.

RELATED: Money Milestones for Kids: A Timeline

Even older kids can be taught new habits, says Phillips. Think about generous acts you can do as a family, like volunteer trips, Habitat for Humanity and soup kitchens. “Teens still have the majority of their lives ahead of them, so these things can be so impactful,” she says.

2. Get the right tools.

“Teach your child about the benefit of saving for themselves, but consider a different piggy bank for giving to others,” recommends Cathy Pareto, President of Cathy Pareto & Associates. Sites like Tykoon help kids put money toward saving, spending and sharing. There are also many ways to DIY a three-part piggy bank.

Other great teaching tools include charity-focused books and websites. “Read them stories about giving and sharing, and make them aware of young kids doing amazing work in their own community,” adds Pareto. And don’t forget the simple act of giving when cleaning out closets. Ask them whom they might like to donate their old clothes or toys to and why.

RELATED: 4 Teen Moguls: How They Did It

3. Check out after-school programs that give back.

When evaluating after-school programs or summer camps, look for ones that have a “give-back” component to help reinforce the value and importance of charity. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are a great example where kids learn to serve others. “They realize that giving back is part of our world if they see good things going on around them,” says Phillips. Not only that, but this creates positive peer-pressure and inspires kids to want to be around others who are also doing good in the world.

  • guest

    True acts of charity are done to benefit others, not to benefit yourself. Teaching a kid that by giving money out they can feel better about themselves kinda sends the wrong message. Boy scouts and girl scouts are great organizations for teaching kids to expect a payout every time they help someone, and this entire article reeks of selfish acts of giving.

    Plus, not all not-for-profits actually help others (Westboro Baptist, anyone?) and many who do help others, don’t do so efficiently. There is so much overhead and bloat in many of these “do-gooder” organizations that pennies on the dollar actually go towards helping the intended party. It would have been nice to see a step on teaching your kid how to analyze the organizations to determine which ones will actually benefit society rather than benefiting the founder.

    While I feel that giving is important, I think it’s a horrible thing to teach kids that “Giving comes first.” Giving does not come first. Covering your necessities and being self-sufficient come first. Please put on your own oxygen mask before trying to assist others.

  • Kimberly Patrizi

    Two websites we have found helpful in our own charity decision making and giving, and in helping our boys learn more about chartiy organizations, to help them find an cause they are interested in giving to:

    1) KIVA: Makes mirco-loans. We asked relatives give the kids gift certificates to KIVA for the holidays, and then encouraged them to eventually “invest” some of their own savings in projects they believed in.

    2) CharityNavigator.org: A great site to research charitable organizations and better understand their mission, as well as how they use and distribute the funds they raise.

  • Dianne Juhl

    I like this quote: “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.” – Marian Wright Edelman.

    My family, and my consulting practice, generally taps Joline Godfrey who is a pioneering thinker in this field of raising do-gooder kids and rich kids who aspire to be young philanthropists. Joline’s ground-breaking work around money and gender also helps me better support my circle of girlfriends, and my clients, to mobilize action on behalf of their daughters’ financial independence — which of course is related to women’s charitable giving in some big ways.

    What is super helpful for me personally, and also professionally as a psychologist, is how Joline’s book, “Raising Financially Fit Kids”, lays out the money mindset & money skill milestones for every age across five developmental stages: children, tweens, middle schoolers, high schoolers, and twenty-somethings. As an adult, it guides me in how to address teachable moments effectively. Plus each stage includes fun, age-appropriate, and meaningful activities for developing do-gooders and young philanthropists: http://www.independentmeans.com/imi/

    Using Joline Godfrey’s work amplified my knowledge when mentoring my nieces and nephews and young entrepreneurs in my community. I believe the key to better supporting young people in any form of charitable activity is to help them embody integrity, be aware of every person’s right to self determination, and be mindful about “what they don’t know that they don’t know know” about money and socio-economic privilege.

    Abundant regards,

    ∞ Dianne Juhl
    Founder & CEO, The Feminine Face of Money
    email: dianne@femininefaceofmoney.com
    phone: 206.850.2261

  • Dianne Juhl

    Helpful article for kickstarting people’s thinking and teaching. I like this inspiring quote: “Service is the rent
    we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.” – Marian Wright Edelman.

    My family and I generally tap Joline Godfrey who is a pioneering thinker in this field of raising do-gooder kids and rich kids who aspire to be young philanthropists. Joline’s ground-breaking work around money and gender also helps me better support my circle of girlfriends, and my clients, to mobilize action on behalf of their daughters’ financial independence — which of course is related to women’s charitable giving in some big ways.

    What is super helpful for me personally, and also professionally as a psychologist, is how Joline’s book, “Raising Financially Fit Kids”, lays out the money mindset & money skill milestones for every age across five developmental stages: children, tweens, middle schoolers, high schoolers, and twenty-somethings. As an adult, it guides me in how to address teachable moments effectively. Plus each stage includes fun, age-appropriate, and meaningful activities for developing do-gooders and young
    philanthropists: http://www.independentmeans.co

    Using Joline Godfrey’s work amplified my knowledge when mentoring my nieces and nephews and young entrepreneurs in my community. I believe the key to better supporting young people in any form of charitable activity is to help them embody integrity, be aware of every person’s right to self determination, and be mindful about “what they don’t know that they don’t know know” about money, culture, and socio-economic privilege.

    Abundant regards,

    ∞ Dianne Juhl