What Are Easy Ways to Involve My Children in Giving This Year?

New Year New Traditions

Editor’s Note: Many families anticipating a generational board change ask the National Center for Family Philanthropy how to involve the next generation in their giving as they are getting ready to ascend to the board. Many families have begun to ask about easy ways to involve their children in philanthropy while they are still young to create a “culture of giving.” The great news for families is the earlier you involve children in giving activities the more interested and engaged they are likely to be if/when they become a part of organized philanthropy.

Kristin Williamson of Central Carolina Community Foundation has kindly shared the Foundation’s latest Talk About Giving blog post ‘New Year, New Traditions’ with Family Giving News offering ideas to help families make giving for a priority for all generations in 2013.

There’s something refreshing about starting a new year and the possibilities it presents. Some call it a ‘do over’ while others might see an opportunity to turn over a new leaf. Regardless, it’s a great time to consider creating new family traditions and habits.

In terms of making giving a part of your family’s activities and ensuring that the value of helping others becomes part of your children’s lifestyles, here are a few new traditions and exercises to consider for this New Year. And if you have others, we’d love to hear about them!

  1. Create a Financial Plan for Your Children. Financial literacy is one of the great subsequent benefits of teaching your children and about financial giving. As we know, giving requires some level of planning – as does spending, saving and investing. We can begin teaching our children the basics of this starting at a very early age. With older children, consider resources like Three Jars. With younger children you can start simpler with your own three jars or modern piggy bank. Check out the video below about a local Midlands mother and her effort to teach her five year old about managing his allowance and giving.
  2. Commit to Volunteering Together. There’s not a better way to introduce your children to the needs of your community than through volunteering – and why not guide them through these lessons and experiences as a family? Sit down together to plan and select your project. Consider making a monthly or quarterly commitment to volunteering together.
  3. Consider a Family Volunteer Vacation. Are you starting to think about a spring break trip or summer vacation? While you’re traveling, consider volunteer opportunities in that region or plan a volunteer trip and then look for ways for some fun and down time in the area while you’re there.
  4. Commit to Charitable Birthday Parties. How much more stuff do your kids need? Instead of having friends bring the usual ‘this or that’ toy, ask them to bring items from the wish list of a specific local organization. Let your child pick the recipient (like Palmetto Place Children’s ShelterTransitionsFamily ShelterPalmetto Health Children’s Hospital or here or similar organizations if you live elsewhere) and deliver the gifts to the nonprofit together. Check out the Turner family’s experience.
  5. Reevaluate Financial Giving. Take a look what you did last year. Are you happy with your philanthropic efforts? Could you do more? Are there ways you could stretch a bit more? Do your children know about your philanthropic efforts? Are you aware of the impact of including them?