Connecting with a charity that resonates with your values and interests can be really rewarding. But giving back isn’t a foreign concept, especially if you donate your time, stuff, and talents on the regular. Choosing a charity to commit to is not always easy, though, and finding one for your kids to get into can be just as difficult.
Giving back to the community is a concept kids can and should learn at an early age. They’ll gain empathy for others and begin to grasp a wider perspective of the world while they’re at it. Something as basic as encouraging your youngest to share with a sibling is a great place to start. Ultimately, the spirit of giving is what you want to instill.
Lego Donation Fail
Our four-year-old loves Lego, and he understands that some people don’t have as much as we do. A few months ago I tried to introduce him to the idea of donating some of his Lego pieces to Giving Brick or BrickRecycler. I thought it’d be an awesome idea for him to share his love for them with similar kids who don’t have the means to get their own. And boy, was I on the wrong track; every time I brought up this idea, my little guy was adamantly against it. I was initially disappointed, feeling as if I was failing to help him in choosing a charity.
The moral of the story is that the idea really needs to come from the child. Even if they appreciate the concept of charitable giving, there may be some causes to which they’re not comfortable contributing. Maybe they’re attached to certain clothes or sentimental about their old books. If parting with their possessions is difficult, an alternative may be to help them pick out food at the grocery store to donate to a food bank.
Teach your children about the causes you support. As a member of the board in my local watershed group, I love that my son is familiar with my monthly meetings. He knows I help make decisions about our stream that are important to me and to the local ecology. Our little guy is also well-acquainted with my husband’s love for public radio and how my father-in-law donates his time to help the elderly with home maintenance. It’s hard to be passionate about something and not let your children know about it. Kids mimic those they love, so set a giving example!
Charity Ideas for Kids
Get the gears going in your kids’ heads about giving back. Volunteer together. Often the first place people think of to volunteer as a group is at the local soup kitchen. And although it’s meaningful and important work, this may not be the activity your children will be eager to do again. Observe what they consider important to them and what they connect with most. Know what I’ve found? Kids want to help other kids. But, as demonstrated by my son and Lego, some of them may not want to donate the most cherished things in the playroom.
Consider volunteering and donating goods to places your family values, like a local animal shelter or a nature center you always drive past. Explore nonprofits that would interest your kids if they were on the receiving end. Also, ask your brood to volunteer with you as a way of making them feel important and helpful with your own nonprofit. DoSomething and ChildrenForChildren are just two organizations dedicated to helping kids find their charity.
When you’re starting out with philanthropy, don’t ask your kids to give up something. Ask them to just give. Let them share. The good feelings, the generous nature, and love for others will inevitably follow.
Where do your kids donate their time? What’s their favorite charity group? Learn where Tom’s of Maine donates its time and treasure on 50 States for Good.
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.
Why It’s Good
Choosing a charity is a personal decision. Help your kids find a philanthropy they connect with by asking them to share what they love, not give it up. This allows them to develop a sense of empathy that stays with them as they get older.