Five Tips to Inspire Kids to Give Back

Whoever said, “Tis better to give than to receive” wasn’t talking to a kid with their eyes on a sweet new video game or a new set of wheels.

Teaching children to be charitable shouldn’t be reserved just for the holidays. You can help instill philanthropic values all year-round. Try to make it consistently clear that giving to those in need is important. Of course, teach them about the benefit of saving for themselves, too, but consider a different piggy bank for giving to others.

According to personal finance expert Beth Kobliner and her latest book, Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not), these five strategies can “grease the wheels” and help instill and inspire kids to give back.

1. Match your kid’s charitable gifts. Professional fundraisers have long known the people give more to charity when their money is matched. So, you can do a variation of this with children or grandchildren, offering to kick in a dollar of yours for every dollar he or she gives to a charity.

2. Stay local. With natural and humanitarian disasters making headlines with alarming frequency, it’s understandable that a kid would be drawn in and want to help. However, it can be challenging to connect the dollars raised at bake sales, for example, to the needs of earthquake victims on another continent. Suggest to kids that giving locally will also give him or her a “window” on issues affecting your community that he or she would not otherwise be aware, such as hunger, homelessness, the needs of your local no-kill animal shelter, etc.

3. Talk about why you give, and why they should too. To turn a child into a giver, you need to talk about what you are doing and why it’s important. That’s the surprising finding of a 2013 study by the United Nations Foundation and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University. Researchers tracked the charitable behaviors of 903 kids over the course of six years. Those whose parents talked to them about giving were more likely to contribute to a cause than those whose parents donated money but didn’t explain why the cause was important to them.

4. Don’t ignore people who ask for money. From supermarkets to highway intersections, we’ve seen someone panhandling. Some folks through a dollar in the container, while others feel that isn’t a good idea. Either way, saying something like “Sorry, not today” is a better, more compassionate response. Don’t pretend you don’t see or hear the person in need. If your personal policy is not to give under those circumstances, let your child or grandchild know how you direct your charitable dollars instead.

5. Don’t overpraise your kid’s or grandchildren’s charitable efforts. Your job as a parent or grandparent is to help your children and/or grandchildren develop the lifelong habit of giving to those in need, not to overpraise them for every act of philanthropy. Keep your eye on what matters. Kids are smart — if you let them explore and ask questions, they’ll find their passion. Money is less important than learning the values of a philanthropist, and exploration of one’s passion is first on the list. Keep it fun and engaging!

Waccamaw Community Foundation is your first resource for all things charitable. Please give Karen Minogue at call at 843-357-4483 or e-mail her at [email protected]. She is poised to help you set up a charitable fund in as little as one day to give to the causes you care about.