Each year around the winter holidays, we encourage readers to find ways to give to the less fortunate members of their communities. However we define our communities – locally, nationally or in terms of a group of people committed to a common cause – we can all contribute something to make them stronger.
Identifying Your Family’s Giving Priorities
With so many worthy causes that need support, how can families decide where to donate the money they have budgeted or collected for charitable giving? By involving your children in the process of deciding what organizations to support, as well as in the process of collecting money to donate, you can create a plan that reflects your whole family’s values while also teaching your children about philanthropy.
"font-size: 12px;">• Broach the concept of giving. Explain that around the holidays – or in the cold months of winter – it’s a human tradition to look after our neighbors. You can use the concept of exchanging gifts to explain that when we have what we need we share with others, and that in a season of giving we give gifts to those who are less fortunate.
• Create a giving allowance. If you give your child an allowance, require him or her to divide it into three containers labeled “spend,” “save” and “give.” Require that a percentage of the allowance go in each. Talk to your child about how to divide the money.
• Think out loud about who needs support. Ask your children who he or she thinks needs help in your community or in the world, and what kind of help they may need. Preschoolers and early school-age children may be best able to focus on the basics: food, clothing and shelter. Older children can name more abstract or remote problems and propose solutions or ways to support them.
• Help older kids understand the roots and scope of causes by encouraging them to do their own research on the issues they’re interested in.
• Keep the big picture in mind. If your child worries that you are not able to give enough, remind him or her that there are many families doing the same thing you are and that together we can all make a difference.
• Consider other ways to help. Ask your children to come up with ways to help other than donating money.
Money is in short supply for many families this year, so perhaps your family can give time instead. Volunteering is a great way to connect to your local community and make a real difference. For those of you who live in an area that has a local Parenthood.com website, check our listings of local organizations that need your support now and year round. Go to our Local Site directory.
To learn more about how to encourage caring and combat materialism all year, go to: