I am lucky. Every day I get to work with people who spend a considerable amount of their time trying to better their community. When I was asked recently about my thoughts on raising a charitable child, I immediately though about the families I have seen using my site and the many ways busy parents can take the lessons I have learned and teach them to their children.
With the holiday season approaching, it is a great time to start new projects and to really drive home the lesson of volunteerism. Here are a few ways to set a good example for your kids, get them involved, and teach them about the importance of philanthropy.
WALK THE WALK
As a mom, I know that kids admire and want to emulate their parents, so getting kids to act in an empathic way can often be a natural result of simply watching how you treat and talk about others, whether it be taking the time to visit someone who is sick, donating to a cause you care about or defending someone who others are making fun of.
With so many households being run by work-outside-the-home parents, people have less time today than ever. Sometimes even doing the research to find an appropriate volunteer project can be taxing and parents may not know that there are some simple volunteer opportunities available that can be rewarding, fun and provide a great opportunity to have a new experience with their kids.
Depending on the age of the child, the volunteerism will vary. It could be something simple from a trash cleanup that anyone can participate in to something more age appropriate. Something that little ones often shine at is visiting the sick and the elderly. Children are naturally empathetic and bring a lightness to these situations because they often don’t feel the heaviness of the environment the way adults do. Simply walking into a room, saying hello to the residents, or even playing games with them is enough to brighten someone’s day. Older children are often great at coming up with their own projects, whether it’s finding a local shelter that they want to volunteer with or identifying a need in the community that they would like to raise money for.
One of the challenges can be trying to get kids to motivate themselves when the benefits are not immediately tangible. With the use of crowdfunding technology it is easier than ever before for kids to launch campaigns that have an impact that reverberates far beyond their initial reach. They can raise money for their school, a family member in need, an athletic team that needs equipment, an artistic project for them and their friends, or even to raise funds and awareness for a cause that is important to them.
Here is an example of kids using crowdfunding to raise money to provide educational and dental products (toothbrushes, dental floss, etc.) to students in the Philippines. http://smilesformiles.mydagsite.com/
The nice thing about an online fundraising site is that parent and child can do it together – they can sit at the computer together and determine what they want to say, what kinds of pictures they want to use, what they want the goal to be. It is also possible that the campaign doesn’t have to only be done online. The idea of crowdfunding with Deposit a Gift is to expand your meaning of community by being able to tap into your online world of friends and family.
So for example, let’s say your elementary school-aged kid wanted to have a lemonade stand or a bake sale to raise money for a friend or family member who is sick. They could still have the in-person stand, but they could make it hi-tech by having posters with the campaign site URL on it instructing people to donate right there on their phones. They could take pictures of themselves running the stand and then upload it to the site to show their hard work. At that point it’s a great time to start blasting it out via email and posting on Facebook and Twitter to get more people involved. This way your “community” is no longer limited to who comes to the stand. And if it’s a really good cause, especially driven by a child, most people won’t want anything in exchange; they’ll just want a quick and easy way to be able to give, and that’s what Deposit a Gift provides with our super-easy-to-use fundraising platform.
MAKE GIVING A TRADITION
Make giving an annual event that your children will look forward to each year by donating toys to children. On your child’s birthday, encourage them to keep one toy and give one away to a family in need. Alternatively, ask your kids to help pick toys that are still in great shape that they no longer use and donate them to a nonprofit like Second Chance Toys’ and their annual holiday drive.
CONSIDER WHAT YOUR CHILD ENJOYS
If your child loves what they are doing, they will want to stick with it. It’s important to play to your child’s strengths when finding a volunteer project. Are they dramatic? Do they play an instrument? They can put on a show at their grandparent’s home. Do they enjoy cooking with their mom? You can make sandwiches for the homeless.
Raising children with a sense of charity is important because it teaches empathy and gives them a new perspective that is inherently not about them. Finding reasons and ways to give back to the world helps them see beyond their personal situation and surroundings to understand what others are going through. It also teaches accountability and gives a sense of self-worth that will live in them forever. They key is to find the right balance for your family.
Dana Ostomel is the founder and Chief Gifting Officer of Deposit a Gift, a crowdfunding platform that allows anyone to easily create an online fundraising campaign for an organization, school or personal need. Whether you’re a nonprofit or school looking to get into crowdsourced fundraising, or an individual looking to raise money for a personal project, disaster relief or help with medical bills, Deposit a Gift makes it easy.