Thanks to Giving
Teaching Children to be Charitable
When my son, Daniel, was in third grade, he wrote a thankfulness poem. It became a family tradition to read it at every Thanksgiving dinner. Daniel was thankful for his family, his friends, his pets and because the poem had to rhyme, he was thankful for a street a mile away called River Road. Our address was James Avenue and what rhymes with Avenue?
I loved listening to Daniel recite year after year. Listing the things we are thankful for is an annual ritual. While this is the month to encourage our children towards gratitude, perhaps we should also encourage them to give. Historically November, the launch of the holiday season, sees the highest levels of charitable donations and volunteerism.
Charity Begins at Home
But giving is not just about making financial contributions to worthy causes. It is an attitude of the heart that is often cultivated at home with some of the simplest gifts of kindness. Children are usually eager to help Mom and Dad. Let them, even if it means a task that should take ten minutes, now takes twenty.
Do your kids see you model helpfulness? Are you assisting an elderly neighbor to take out the trash or sweep the steps? I still recall the day my boys, without my prompting or her asking, ran to unload groceries from the car of the young mother who lived next door. She and I were both pleasantly surprised by this spontaneous act.
Giving in the Neighborhood
There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer as a family. In fact, Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, has designated November 19th as Family Volunteer Day — a day of service that celebrates the power of families who work together to support their communities and neighborhoods.
Families can design their own volunteer opportunity or choose from several local projects at http://fvd.generationon.org/.
The website, randomactsofkindness.org, challenges visitors to Be the Spark with several suggested benevolent activities including knitting blankets for babies, writing thank you notes to veterans and paying it forward by covering the tab for a patron at a restaurant where your family is eating a meal.
The 80:10:10 Rule
As the economy has steadily improved, financial contributions to charities have increased. In the past year alone Americans gave $373.25 billion to philanthropic causes, up 4.1% over the prior year. In 2015 the largest source of charitable giving was individuals, with an average household contribution of $2974.00.
Many financial advisors suggest an 80:10:10 formula. 80% of income is designated towards household expenses. 10% goes to savings and 10% is donated. Teaching children this formula not only creates lifelong wise money management, it establishes the importance of giving to those in need.
Although designed for teachers, Learningtogive.org, includes a portal for parents to inspire philanthropy at home. Check out the link to The Philanthropy Project, philanthropyproject.com/#campaigns, a platform that helps youth bring service projects to life.
Tuesday, November 29 is #givingtuesday, the international day of giving. It follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This digital initiative leverages the power of social media to support organizations around the world. Last year 700,000 people raised $116,000,000 online in over seventy countries.
Assure that your donations are going to worthy causes by checking them out at a website like Charitynavigator.org. The Tips for Donors section will guide you towards wise giving.
Children are naturally altruistic. Encouraging this behavior has proven psychological benefits. Those who truly care about the well-being of others tend to be happy.
Visit these websites for more information on charity and volunteering.