This month my featured blog post is from a relative of mine, Alex. Alex is a wife, mother of 3, instills strong values in her children, a goal crusher and hard worker. On top of all of the things she’s busy doing, she has recently started a blog about Mommyhood, DIY and Design and Fitness! You MUST check out her blog! Read on for some great tips about raising givers and leaders!
“Philanthropy: The action of transforming the social well-being of others through generosity.” – McCabe Callahan
There are so many things I want to teach my kids. Some days I feel overwhelmed with the fact that I have 18 short years with them in which I have to teach them how to do practical tasks such as laundry without dyeing their whites pink, as well as huge tasks including instilling a strong value and belief system. Philanthropy and the art of giving is one of those huge things..
Maybe it’s because I used to work in fundraising. Maybe it’s because I currently work for a non-profit. Maybe it’s because I was a sorority girl in college (Go Greek!). Maybe it’s because I was taught in Sunday School to feed the hungry. Maybe it’s an innate trait. Whatever the case, contributing to charity has always been a piece of my life. It has taught me humility, grace and sacrifice; all life lessons my kids need and I want them to learn, even at a young age. I work hard to ensure our kids know the value of giving to those in need and wanted to share a few ways on how you can do the same!
Providing volunteer opportunities is the easiest way to help your kiddos understand the concept of giving. Kids don’t have a lot, but they do have time and therefore can donate it. In the past, our kids have rang the bell for the Salvation Army at Christmas time and they LOVED it. It also sparked some great conversations about what we were doing and why. My kids also really enjoy hopping on the four wheeler with some gloves and garbage bags and picking up trash along our roadside. Again, super simple and can be as long or as short as you need/want it to be. Another thing I have done with my oldest (6 years old) is to take her with me when I volunteer. It may not be an event or activity that kids were eligible for, but chances are, there is something a kid can do. Recently I helped arrange securing school supply donations for a local organization. One morning, we had planned to pack them up by household. My daughter came along and helped by handing us bags during our assembly line. She spoke about it for weeks and was SO proud that she could help kids who need it. Give your kids the opportunity to show up and I’m guessing they will surprise you on how much they cooperate and learn from it.
Tithing is an easier concept for my kids to grasp, simply because our church reinforces the idea. As I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, my kids receive an allowance each week and have to divide it between their spend jar (50%), save jar (25%) and give jar (25%). We are teaching them very early on that it is an expectation that they give financially. While I feel like we do well in this arena, the area in which they need improvement is donating their toys. Each year before Christmas and birthdays, we do a toy clean out. I’ve tried speaking with them about the value of donating their toys, especially around the holidays when some children may not receive any toys. Turns out they have a greater connection to their toys then the dollar bills and coins in their give jar and suddenly every toy is their “FAVORITE!”. (insert eye roll) It’s a fight, but something we are always working on!
Leading by example
While last, I think this may be the most important way we instill philanthropy in our children: showing them. As much as we hate it, the saying “monkey see, monkey do” is real and alive (If you don’t cringe at least once a day from your kids repeating one of your bad habits, give me all your secrets…) Whether I am volunteering with the church or a non-profit, I always make sure my kids know what I’m doing. And, because they are kids and super predictable, this inevitably leads to the question…but why? Like any normal human being, the constant “whys” often leave me feeling frazzled and irritated (do you really need to know where the “pipes’ water” comes from while mommy is trying to take a shower?), I love when my kids ask me why I’m volunteering. It leads to wonderful conversation and more often that not, ends with them wanting to do it too. In their eyes, it is made special, which it is. The ability to give something to someone truly is a gift in itself.
So next time you’re mandated to volunteer for work or you get that solicitation letter from the local non-profit in the mail, don’t grumble or begrudgingly do your civic duty. Little eyes are watching. Little ears are listening. Use the moment to explain philanthropy and giving. The world needs kind and compassionate humans right now. Let’s make sure we’re raising them.
Are you raising Philanthropic Kids!? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!