It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so the song goes. October marks the beginning of what I like to call “Donation Season” - 92 days when charities around the world receive over a third of their yearly donations. According to some recent reports on philanthropy, 34% of all donations are made in the last three months of the year, including roughly 25% of those between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Talk about last minute gift giving!
By all accounts, donations are back on the rise after the bad economic times of a few years ago. However, how much of the counted money comes from kids? There are an estimated 73.6 million kids under the age of 18 living in the US. Just imagine how charities would be impacted if just 10% of our kids gave $1 a week for an entire year? That’s a $382.7 million game-changer.
I really believe that our children are the answer to the prayers of organizations that depend on precious donations year after year. But if our kids don’t know why they should give or how to give, can we expect them to do so or be good at it? It’s really like most other things in life … the earlier you learn and practice, the better you are at it. It’s just that simple!
So, as parents, how do we do it … make our kids understand and develop into a good givers? Here are a few suggestions to consider:
- Make It Real – You’ve seen the TV commercials from the animal shelter or about the kids in other countries. Those are effective because it makes a cause real to us. If we want our kids to be passionate or supportive of a charity, make it real to them and show them how their money can help.
- It’s Their Idea – We all know what happens when we try to make kids do anything. So when it comes to giving, make it seem like it was their idea by exposing them to a particular charity and asking them for ideas how to help. At a minimum your goal should be to get them to share their allowance, birthday savings or money saved for a special toy a few times a year.
- Be Family Strong – Donate to someplace as a family, especially if you have young children. Once you’ve passed along your words of wisdom and created a plan for your children to give, you need to drive home the message by doing it together. Let them see you and older siblings dropping coins into the bucket of a person ringing a bell or donating online. Either way, being family strong will pay off!
- Work for It - Instead of parents always reaching into their wallets to make a donation, let the kids pitch in with hard earned allowance. BusyKid (www.BusyKid.com) is a perfect example of how a child can use modern technology to build a routine of earning and sharing. By starting a routine of giving as a kid, he/she will likely discover that giving a small portion of a paycheck as an adult comes with other benefits too.
- Money’s good, but don’t forget about time – My kids have no problem giving a part of their allowance each week at church, however, nothing bonded our family more than when we used part of our Summer and Fall vacations traveling the US to do work for families in need. Overall, we traveled nearly 10,000 miles in a packed RV to do chores for some struggling families. You don't need to go to this extreme, but getting your family to help others when it’s not the holiday season, can be impactful in more ways than one.
With Americans giving about 4% of their yearly income to charities, it's clear that kids can make a huge impact on the success of many organizations. As parents, we should get our kids vested in the game much earlier and more often. Teach your kids to be better life-long givers because it really is better to give than receive.
Gregg Murset is a certified financial planner and Chief Executive Officer of BusyKid (busykid.com). Formerly known as My Job Chart, BusyKid is the first mobile website where kids can earn, save, share, spend and invest real money