Mark your calendars - Giving Tuesday is coming up on Tuesday, November 27! Giving Tuesday is a global movement for giving and volunteering, when charities, companies and individuals join together to give back through donations, time or volunteering. Last year, Giving Tuesday was celebrated in over 150 countries worldwide raising over $300 million in online donations. What a great day to mark the start of the Season of Giving! And what better time to get your kids interested in giving back too.
Giving back to charity has always been important to me, and when the kiddos came along, a new challenge arose. How to introduce the idea of charitable giving in an interesting and age appropriate way (because writing a cheque isn't exactly a lasting learning moment for kids). In honour of Giving Tuesday, here are a few fun ways to get the charitable conversation started with your kids.
Normalize donations - Give at the cash
While I love the focus that Giving Tuesday puts on charitable giving, my goal is to make giving not a one-time thing, but instead a regular occurrence. One of the best ways to normalize giving is to make it a part of every day activities. So many stores - grocery chains, pet stores, sports stores, toy stores, have charitable arms and foundations and will often ask for a donation at checkout, both on line and in store.
I always add the $1 or $2 requested for a few reasons: it goes to a good cause and doesn't make a dent in my large grocery bills. It also always makes the person working the cash smile, which is always a nice thing to do! And finally, when I'm out shopping with the kiddos (and as a mom of two, I always am!), it opens the door to great conversations with the kids about different charities and the important work they do. An easy way to role model giving back and the qualities I want to instil in the kiddos. All that is definitely worth a loonie (that’s $1, for my American friends)!
Gifts that give back
Another great kid-friendly way to open the door to talking about charity is through gifts that give back. Of course a charitable donation on someone's behalf is a lovely gift, but sometimes young kids need something a little bit more tangible. There are great organizations who take a very kid-friendly approach to charitable gifting, providing the kids with a physical reminder of the impact and donation that was gifted. For example, kids can become a Chimpanze Guardian Monthly Donor with the Jane Goodal Institute or adopt a wildlife species from the World Wildlife Foundation. (So far, we've adopted a chimpanzee, a giraffe and a caribou!) Alongside the monthly donation comes a stuffed toy and poster, which are great reminders for a young kid of what their donation is doing, and something they'll continue to interact and play with, which will extend the conversation about the issues. .
Beyond charities, so many companies have give back programs too that help you make an impact with your purchasing power. (Like us! Did you know that My Kindness Calendar donates 5% of annual profits to charity?) Another great way for kids to make an impact, when they know their purchases stand for something more.
Spend, save, give
This is one of the "on my to do list" ideas, since my kids aren't yet old enough to get an allowance. But when they do, I will definitely consider the concept of a Spend/Save/Give bank. This is when you encourage kids to do some basic financial planning with their earnings at an early age - explaining that their earnings should be divvied up between spending money, saving money, and money to donate to charity. I love this idea, since it gives kids a real view into how us adults should be planning our finances too, and gives kids autonomy and independence to operate within these three categories.
Whether you use 3 empty jars or an on market product like the Moonjar, I would love to hear your experiences with the Spend, Save, Give concept, if your kids are using it now. I need your pointers for a few years down the road!
When we think about getting kids excited about giving back and charity, it's important to remember that giving can happen through time, not just through money. It's always important to show kids - who have energy and time to spare versus disposable income - that their time and efforts can make a difference and have a positive impact in the world. That is a key lesson in getting kids on board with giving back.
When it comes to volunteering with young kids, one of my favourite things to do is to organize an "at home" volunteer experience, as opposed to looking for an experience with a charity that can accommodate kids, which are hard to find for liability and other reasons. But that's no reason that you can't organize something meaningful at home. Recently, for World Kindness Day, I arranged a Shoebox Packing Party, where neighbourhood kids came together to decorate and fill shoeboxes for women living in shelters in our community for the Shoebox Project. Is was a perfect activity for kids - from decorating, to carefully choosing contents that the women would enjoy, the kids loved the activity and got a great interactive lesson in giving back and doing good.
100 Kids Who Care
Have you heard of the 100 Who Care Movement? I learned about it last year from a friend whose kids are participating and I fell in love. There are more than 600 groups all over the world of Women, Men, Businesses and Kids, wherein each respective group gets together to advocate for and support local charities.
Here's how it works. 100 Kids in a community commit to getting together 3 times annually. Each time, they bring $10 (for adult groups, it’s $100) and listen to presentations from local charities, selected by the kids, pitching for the donations. At the end of the presentations, the kids vote on which charity is deserving of the financial support. From learning about advocacy skills, to supporting local charities, to community building and more, the concept is so cool that I’m dedicating a whole separate blog post to it next week, so make sure you tune back in on Giving Tuesday to be inspired and to read more about this awesome initiative.