Written by: Ellie Kapsalis

One of the most rewarding things we can do is support causes that make us feel fulfilled and like we are making an impact on the world around us. Giving is an altruistic act that teaches us generosity and caring for the well-being of others. Each of us plays an important role in the lives of others, and our collective contributions can make a lasting impression in our communities and beyond.

Philanthropy improves the human condition and promotes our civic calling. Philanthropists frequently donate to causes, ranging from charities and nonprofits to technological research and academic funding. Usually, they are personally connected to a particular cause and are fervently driven to support it, dedicating money and years of time and effort to service. From a young age, we teach our children about the importance of giving to others. By teaching these virtues, we model compassion and begin to form our children’s personal values. Whether it is through volunteer programs or donating, giving to charity benefits both givers and those tied to its mission.

This National Philanthropy Month, we explore the importance of volunteering and ways that parents can teach their children about the importance of philanthropy to instill a giving spirit and an early love for humanity that will carry on into adulthood.

Donate

One of the best ways to teach your child about giving is by donating extra items around your home. Spend an afternoon with your child going through old toys and clothes that they no longer wish to keep. Work together and put these belongings into a box. Then, have your child join you on a trip to your local shelter or charity. Let your child know that there are many people less fortunate than them who will appreciate these gifts immensely.

During the school year, many teachers need additional school supplies. Visit the store with your child and have them choose materials they would like to donate to the classroom. You and your child can also contribute to school fundraisers for programs or upcoming field trips. Many schools also have yearly food drives where students can donate non-perishable foods such as pasta, soup cans and jams. Not only will these philanthropic acts make your child feel like a hero, they will also learn to cherish the space they are in, the activities they join and not to take daily items for granted.

Another way to teach your child about philanthropy is to create a donation box in your household dedicated to you and your child’s favorite charity. Engage in efforts that will allow your child to raise money so that they can donate a portion of their earnings to the box. This technique will teach your child how to share with others, and at the same time, contribute to a good cause. Children will feel special being needed and being a part of something that makes a difference.

Running for social causes is also a great way to instill the importance of philanthropy in your children. Charity walks are frequently held throughout the year and are a great way of showing your kids how to honor those affected, as well as see the hard work behind acquiring donations from friends in order to participate. Your child will see all the great things that can be accomplished when people come together as one and root for a common cause.

Finally, you can dedicate your birthday to Children’s Bureau on Facebook. When your special day comes along, why not celebrate by giving back? Because Facebook enables users to set up a fundraiser for their birthday, it’s an easy, festive way to raise funds for your favorite charity, including Children’s Bureau!

There are numerous ways to contribute to Children’s Bureau’s mission. If you have an old car, boat, or RV that you no longer need, our Vehicle Donation Program is a great. Another way to get involved at Children’s Bureau is by joining Team all4kids and participating in our annual marathon or hosting your own fundraiser, like the birthday Facebook fundraiser mentioned above. You can also shop on Amazon while supporting our cause through the Amazon Smile program. Lastly, we hope you’ll consider contributing to our Annual Appeal from November through July—the funds raised from this campaign benefit the 40,000 children and families Children’s Bureau serves every year.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a wonderful way to teach your children about charity and promote philanthropy. There are countless local food and toy drives to partake in, especially during the holidays. At Children’s Bureau, we’re always looking for toy donations and volunteers for our annual Holiday Toy Boutique. You can also compile old toys and books for children at a nearby children’s hospital. In doing this, children will feel a sense of responsibility and goodwill, as well as understand the functions behind an organization. They will also learn how money is not the only way one can give back.

Children can also volunteer for causes they are closely connected to. Those who love the environment may want to spend the day cleaning up the beach; those who love getting messy in the kitchen might want to have a bake sale and donate proceeds to a local cause. Children can brainstorm several other creative ways to help their community, such as making DIY projects that they can sell or donate. It is good to gently inform your child of social issues in the community so that they understand the context behind the work they are doing. For example, if a natural disaster strikes a community, your children can participate in relief efforts to learn how to help victims of the tragedy. As a result of volunteering, children will open their eyes and develop a wider compassion and respect for things beyond themselves. Dedicate at least a day a month volunteering with the family to instill a lifelong love of giving.

Small Acts of Kindness

The act of giving far outweighs the act of receiving. Through giving, one can learn about themselves and others and shift their perspective of the world, becoming more optimistic. Research shows that generosity is linked to an increase in happiness. In an experiment conducted in a 2017 study, researchers found that those who had spent money on others reported a higher level of happiness compared to those who had spent money on themselves. These results suggest that sharing with others is a fulfilling deed.

Kind gestures have big impact. As a parent, you can teach your child the small gesture of making a card for someone during a period of celebration, grief or appreciation. Dedicating time to uplift someone else can strengthen relationships and be very rewarding. There’s nothing more personal, sentimental and thoughtful than a handwritten card.

Children can also be encouraged to give to their neighbors by making them a homemade dish. Set aside some time with your child and cook your favorite family dinner or dessert for the neighbors next door. If a friend or a family member’s birthday is coming up, plan a surprise birthday for them with your child. You can bake a cake, create party favors and decorate the house. Acts of kindness, no matter the size, will show your child the spirit of generosity, its positive impact on others and create lifelong memories.

The Impact of Philanthropy

Philanthropic efforts serve as the heartbeat of an organization. At Children’s Bureau, we rely on individual giving to support many programs and services. In fact, Children’s Bureau’s School Readiness Program, Family Enrichment Program and NuParent are 100% funded by individual giving dollars.

Not only is philanthropy crucial in sustaining the important work of organizations, it helps to build community for volunteers, donors and those they assist with their donation. In this way, individuals and businesses that come together for a cause promote a sense of community with everyone around them. Philanthropy has the special potential to form strong bonds with those you meet and those you serve.

Teaching your children about the act of giving will show them how to live life with abundance. Through philanthropy, their hearts will become rich, and they will develop deeper empathy, organizational skills, collaboration and leadership. Children become witnesses to the differences they make when we provide them a platform to cultivate change.