Getting your child to give to charity is a great way to instill a sense of compassion and generosity, but the simple fact there are so many different charities out there makes selecting the right one a bit daunting. These steps can guide you through the selection process and ensure your child finds a group they feel good about working with.
Talk to your child about what they like and believe
Just like adults, children are much more likely to stick with charitable giving if they know their money is going to something they prefer or are passionate about. For instance, if your son or daughter loves to play sports, they might feel good supporting a group that helps get free sports equipment to needy kids. If your child isn’t really sure what he would like to support, encourage him to try a variety of different activities and participate in opportunities that arise. Consider going on “field trips” to different organizations in your neighborhood so he can see their work up close and talk to people who are involved. If you can get him to volunteer, even better, as it will give him a fuller understanding of what the workers at the charity will be doing regularly with his funds.
Make a short list of causes to support.
Most people, including kids, would give to every charity if they could, but the reality is that a single person doesn’t have enough money to support every group’s needs. Once you know some of the areas your child wants to work in, ask your child what causes or beliefs—for instance, the environment, building homeless shelters, feeding animals—they would gravitate to if they could only pick two or three.
Decide where you want to make an impact.
Within each cause, your child will be able to find groups that work at different levels, such as local or national. Go over the benefits and drawbacks of each level and make sure your child knows where his money will have an effect
Look at each group’s vision.
Charity groups in each sector can have very different objectives. For example, if you have two environmental groups, one might work to clean up ocean water, whereas another might focus on studying the effects of different chemicals. Go online with your child and look up the mission or vision statement for organizations you are considering. Try to match your child’s goals with what the groups are trying to do, and check that the charity’s goals are quantifiable and described in concrete terms.
Make sure the company is legitimate.
Unfortunately, there are many groups out there posing as charities that are nothing more than scams. Your first move is to get online with your child and check the status of the organizations he’s interested in on Guidestar. You also can check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau. Another route is to simply search the name of the website along with the word “scam” or “complaints.” Usually, the longer a charity has been around, the safer it is, but don’t rule out new groups—many good ones just need a little help to get on their feet
Look at donation requirements.
Some companies have a minimum donation requirement, simply because it isn’t always cost-effective to process less than a certain amount. Others don’t care what you give, with some gladly accepting even the change in your child’s coat pocket. With your child’s resources limited, concentrate on charities that don’t have high entries, or ask your child, whether he would like to save up to reach the minimum donation amount.
Get more information.
Your last step in choosing a charity with your child is getting other details, such as ways you can get the money to the charity (for instance, check, electronic transfer) and the percent of each donation that goes to relief rather than administration. Go over the methods of giving and help your child pick which one is most practical, and look at the numbers to see where he’ll get the biggest effect for his buck.