How and why to give to charity are important lessons for kids to learn. Handling money responsibly includes learning about how to give. Charity gives children the opportunity to help others by sharing what they have. Benevolence is about the importance of giving and what it means to both the giver and receiver. Lessons in charity not only show a child how lucky he is but also teach him the virtue of taking responsibility for others.
Help your child to develop satisfaction in aiding others by putting aside his own needs and wants in order to benefit those not as fortunate. No matter how little money a child might have to contribute to a charitable cause, the primary goal is to get him into the habit of giving.
Establish guidelines for making charitable contributions. Whether it involves putting aside a small percentage of her allowance each week, doing without something she wants so that she can help someone else or contributing a portion of her earnings from a newspaper route, these actions teach a child to grow up to be a caring and generous person. Let your child know that whatever she can afford to give, every little bit can make a difference.
Teach your child to give of himself when he is unable to give money. Volunteerism is an important aspect of giving to others. Even elementary-school-age children can volunteer by selling Girl Scout cookies or trick-or-treating for UNICEF at Halloween. Simply raking leaves off an elderly neighbor’s lawn is a meaningful way of giving.
Guide your child in selecting a particular charity or two to which she wishes to donate some of her allowance or money she has earned or received. Explain to her that it is not practical to try to give to too many charities at once, but that she must set a specific giving goal. For example, if a close family member has a terminal illness, she might want to donate to an organization that supports research related to that particular disease. Help her identify causes that mean the most to her.
Demonstrate good stewardship yourself. There is no better way to teach your child about charity than by being a role model. According to a 2002 survey conducted by the Center on Philanthropy Panel Study, the average American family donates about $1,900 each year to charitable causes including church, health and education. Keep in mind that a younger child needs to see you contribute in physical ways that he can understand. Putting money in the collection plate at church, and taking bags of food to a local food bank or clothing to a family whose home was destroyed by fire make more of an impression on a young child than writing out a check and sending it in the mail.