Financial literacy isn’t just a personal issue. It’s a social issue, because many people are in need of financial assistance. This is where you can teach your child not only to manage funds and other assets, but to have a compassionate and generous heart. Teaching your child to give to charity can start early, and there are a few tried and true ways your child can do it.
- Donate old toys and clothes
Kids develop incredibly quickly, not only physically, but also mentally. It’s pretty difficult to find clothing that fits for more than a year, and kids usually need more challenging toys as they get older. The result is that most parents end up with a huge amount of outgrown items they don’t use. If you’ve taken very good care of them, many of these are more than serviceable for someone else to use, especially if you had only one child who enjoyed them. Have your child help you pack up and take these items to organizations such as the Salvation Army or your local court. Libraries and schools are usually more than willing to accept gently used books. If you want to convert these items to cash to give, have a garage sale, or bring them to a shop that deals in used goods.
- Make a cash donation to charity of choice
Many charities rely on cash donations to do basic things like transport goods to the needy, send mail-outs and rent business space. If workers in the charity are paid, wages often come from donations, as well. Talk with your child about what needs he sees in the community and what problems he feels his money could help eliminate. Then go with him to formally present his gift to the donations supervisor or charity treasurer, or help him write a letter and send a check in the amount he’s donating. Just be aware that some charities ask for a minimum donation of a certain amount, which helps reduce the amount of transactions they must track and which therefore reduces administrative costs.
If your child is very young, it might be more challenging for him to save very much. This can also apply if your family budget is too tight to allow your child to have a larger allowance or pay him for chores. In this case, the best route is to encourage your child to volunteer. Working in places such as soup kitchens, nursing homes and similar organizations are safe bets, but you also can get creative at home, such as having your child weed the neighbor’s garden for free. The benefit of volunteering over just giving money is that your child can put a real face on the people he is helping, making the giving more personal.
- Set up a campaign or raffle
Sometimes kids goals for giving are far beyond what they have to give themselves. Kids often also want to get others involved in giving once they understand how good it can feel and that they are making a difference. When your child wants to give more than he personally has, one option is to set up a campaign online, such as through websites such as kidscangivetoo.com. These websites allow kids to set up charity-based fundraising events, and people can donate electronically. The sites usually tally an ending balance at a specific date and cut a check to the named group. Raffles allow your child to sell items to earn funds, instead—the items raffled off can be donated from others, so this doesn’t have to cost your child anything.
- Give to a place of worship
Many families believe that charity is a way to honor and serve others, and churches and similar groups often present it in this way. They usually take collections during regular services, and the leaders of the church then decides how to use the funds (e.g., missions, paying the church electricity bill, buying religious texts to give away, etc.). The benefits here are that you can present giving as a very spiritual thing, and that churches usually accept any amount ranging from a few pennies to thousands of dollars.