How do you teach your children the importance of charity work?

Help build a foundation of charitable giving for your children and show them that their actions, no matter how small, can make a real difference.

If doing good stuff is important to you, you probably want to share your passion with your family. Here are some easy ways to teach your children about charity:

Show them that they already do it. Smiling at someone on the street, holding doors open for people who need a hand or visiting a sick relative is still charity because it warms someone’s heart. Most children already do these things, but they will be pleased to learn that they’re helping out.

Let them choose their own causes. Suggest some causes to your child and let them choose one that matters to them. They’re more likely to want to support a cause that they know about and identify with. Be sensitive to their age and introduce causes that match their interests. Children’s hospitals where they can donate old toys or local farms where they can play with the animals and donate money often work well for children. You can also Use CAF’s Charity Search to help find a charity that is local to you and matches their chosen cause. CAF allows you to search for any charity online and make a donation straight from their site.

Make it a family affair. Lead by example and let them see you drop money into charity boxes, ask them to help you pick out canned foods during a food drive or take them along when you participate in fundraising events. It gives you an opportunity to discuss why it’s important to give and how rewarding it can be.

You can also create family traditions by giving to the same cause every year during the holidays or setting up a charity box at home which the whole family can contribute to, then decide together how to use the money.

Teach them the value of time. With limited financial means it can be hard for children to donate money. Use this as a chance to teach them that they have a much more valuable resource than cash – they have time, which can be just as powerful. Encourage them to help neighbours with small jobs and if they are older, help them to volunteer at local clubs, hospitals and take part in charitable events at school.

Celebrate. When your children give, tell them that you’re proud of them. Show them pictures and thank you notes from the places they have helped, so they can see the impact and feel appreciated for their contributions.

P.S. Why not get your childrens’ creative juices flowing and set them one of these challenges:

  • Random act of kindness: Get the whole family involved and reward the most creative person with a non-financial treat, such as their favourite dinner.
  • Pay it forward: Ask your children to do something nice for three other people each time someone does something nice for them, and teach them to share the joy of receiving
  • #givingtuesday: why not get them to plan something special for the whole family to celebrate this year’s #givingtuesday!

Louise Paul is Internal Communications Manager at Charities Aid Foundation, the organisation that brings you #givingtuesday