06 Aug The Three Piggies’: Teaching Charity to Kids
As a young Mom I wanted to raise a son who understood that not all kids had the material things he did. I wanted a boy who realized the importance of helping others when he could. A study by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found that young children whose parents talk with them about donating are 20% more likely to give to charity than kids who do not have such conversations with their parents. For a while I struggled with how on earth you teach the concept of charitable giving to a 4 year old (which is the age the experts suggest starting to teach this), and then I came up with a few ideas that worked for our family. I now have a 19 year old who knew exactly why he got a Kiva gift card for Christmas last year.
The Three Piggy Banks– If you have young kids or grandkids give them three piggy banks. One is for spending, one is for saving and one is for charity. Make sure to clearly mark each piggy bank. When people give your kids money ask them to give it in one-dollar bills, to make dividing it between the piggy banks easier. Talk with your kids about what each piggy bank is for, and when they are given money spend time discussing how much should go in each piggy. As a family once a year (we chose the end of November) sit with your kids and have them pick a charity. I would ask my son what was important to him that year. Maybe it was sports, or a new food he found, or that he was glad to have a new Razor scooter. Each year we chose a different charity based on what was meaningful to him that year. By allowing my son to choose the charity it became meaningful to him, and helped him see the value of donating to charity. Maybe the year he loved sports he chose to donate to a camp for kids, or if he loved his Razor scooter he adopted a kid off an angel tree that wanted a scooter. We offered to match whatever he saved, and made the donation as a family.
The Great Toy Clean Out– Is it just me or do kids have TONS of toys? Twice a year (generally before my son’s birthday and the holidays) we had the Great Toy Clean Out. Whatever he had outgrown, or was done playing with would be donated to charity. I made him part of the decision making, explaining that there were kids that had no toys that he would be giving these toys, clothes and books to. He was always willing to let go of a few things, and we would pack things up and donate them to a Women’s Shelter. I made sure I also cleaned out my closet at that time, to help model the behavior I wanted my son to develop.
Give In Person– When possible have your child come with you to give the money to charity. That may mean going to the animal shelter to drop off pet food, or going to Target to buy the toys for your Angel Tree kiddo, or driving the food to the food bank. It makes your child connect with the reality of where the items are going. You can also do this by having your child “donate” their birthday to a cause. Allow your child to make the decision about this, and let them pick the charity, and then include that as part of the invitation. Don’t forget to model this behavior as an adult. Why not host a food bank holiday party, or donate YOUR birthday to a charity?