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What’s the best way to encourage small kids to give? “Inspire them,” says Mitchell. Kids learn much more about charitable acts by watching you than by you telling them. Let your toddler see you at work for causes you care about: attending meetings, volunteering, and being gracious and helpful to the people in your day-to-day life. When your children outgrow toys, books, or clothing, you can use those opportunities to talk to your children about where you donate them and why.
Rather than encouraging children to save allowance money in a “piggy bank,” provide them with three clear jars, which they can decorate and label “Spend Some,” “Save Some,” and “Share Some,” respectively. Then suggest that they distribute their allowance among the jars. Children love watching their money accumulate and feel important when they help select recipients for the contents of their giving jar. Kids learn basic money management skills while also introducing the concept of giving in a way they can easily understand.1
When Ghandi said “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” he perfectly described the benefits of volunteering for teens. Spending time helping others can teach valuable lessons about responsibility and teamwork while meeting new people and engaging in activities they enjoy.
Similar to the allowance idea, young adults over the age of 18 have another option2: establishing a Giving Account® of their own. Teach your son or daughter to steward funds and make decisions by researching a handful of qualified public charities to support. Next, have them present their findings to the rest of the family for feedback and consensus.
1 The Giving Family by Susan Crites Price, Council on Foundations
2 Fidelity Charitable Policy Guidelines
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