It’s no secret that parenting is one of the most rewarding (and difficult) jobs you will ever have. Along with ensuring your children’s safety, health, and overall well-being, there is also the monumental task of teaching them how to be productive, socially conscious members of society. But how do you help your child grow into the kind of person who makes a positive impact on others?
When you intentionally instill the importance of contributing to their community and helping your children develop a sense of compassion and empathy, they will begin to grasp how their actions and decisions affect others. In addition, teaching them how to be responsible with their money-saving a portion and setting a portion aside to give back – is also key. Read on for five ways to discuss charitable giving with your children.
Strategy 1: Make giving back a regular topic.
Openly discuss money with your children so that it isn’t an unfamiliar or uncomfortable topic, and start these conversations early, tailoring them to the age of your child. Go beyond teaching your children the value of a dollar and help them understand the power that the same dollar can have when it is applied to a cause that’s close to their heart.
Talk about the charities to which you contribute – and all the reasons why you choose to do that. If you can provide real-life examples, that can go a long way toward helping your children understand the impact of charitable giving. Using a dollar figure to illustrate your point is also helpful. If a pizza for the family costs $25, explain that this same money could be used to provide 250 meals to those battling hunger.
Strategy 2: Don’t just tell them – show them.
You have probably heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words.” This holds true for adults and children alike. Kids learn through example, and watching you give back is the best way to teach them how to give back themselves.
If you engage your children in your charitable giving behaviors, they will understand not only how you do it but also – and more importantly – why you do it. Frequency is another factor that contributes to the impact of this approach. The more often you give back, the more deeply that lesson will be ingrained in your children’s minds.
Strategy 3: Get strategic with allowances.
Allowances are a long-standing practice in the parenting world, but did you know they can also play a role in your children’s charitable giving education? If you divide allowances into three categories, your kids can have funds for saving, spending, and giving back.
As a family, discuss different charities and causes where kids can donate. You can also discuss why those particular options are important to your family. With younger children, you can make recommendations about where they can donate their money. For example, if your child loves dogs, you might suggest they donate to a local animal shelter.
Greenlight Debit Card is one option for parents who want to teach financial literacy, pay allowances for completed chores, and allow children to divide their money into the three categories mentioned above. This card is designed for kids, and parents can monitor spending, saving, investing, and giving.
Strategy 4: Create a family donor-advised fund.
Unlike separate savings accounts for each family member, a donor-advised fund is an account you can establish collectively based on what matters most to your family. While a third party administers the money in a donor-advised fund, this kind of account allows individuals greater ease for making charitable gifts while maintaining considerable control over where the funds go.
Along with the ability to ensure funds support causes and organizations that matter to your family, there are also financial benefits associated with these funds, including immediate tax deductions – sometimes for the full amount of the donation. Another benefit of a donor-advised fund is that it provides your children with a first-hand look at how investing works.
Strategy 5: Volunteer as a family.
Remember when we said that children learn by watching? Well, they also learn by doing. Volunteering together can be a memorable bonding opportunity for your family – as well as a chance to experience the unique joys of giving back.
Try to find opportunities that your children will enjoy. You could clean up a local park, help out at an animal shelter, organize a food drive or adopt a family to give gifts to during the holidays. Children can also go through their belongings to find clothes, toys, books, and more to donate.
A Charitable Giving Education
The strategies above offer great ways to teach your children about the importance of giving back, but if you want those lessons to stick, you need to provide them with some additional context, too. Be honest about your financial situation and why you think it’s important to give back. Explain how many families struggle with hunger or don’t have money for toys. Perhaps you have never had to face those challenges, but it doesn’t mean you can’t empathize – and teach your children to empathize – with those who have.
Soon enough, you will start to see that spirit of generosity blossoming in your kids. When you do, make sure to recognize their efforts and encourage them to keep at it. Did they give $10 to a cause that’s important to them? Did they donate a few toys so that another child could have them? Praise them for their actions, and they will be more likely to repeat them.