How you can teach your kids to be charitable 

Written by
Felicity Hannah
Finances expert
26 October 2021
4 min read
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A big part of raising children is teaching them to think about other people’s feelings. And more and more, parents and guardians recognise the importance of also teaching them good financial habits. 

Getting kids to think about charity is a great way to help teach both of those important disciplines, but it can be hard to know how to do it. 

The good news is that children can really engage with the idea of helping others or supporting a cause. Here are some ways to teach them the importance of charity and how to do it well. 

It’s not just about money 

Children won’t have huge amounts of cash, so a good early lesson in charity can be about the value of volunteering their time and effort. 

Ben Faulkner, communications director at EQ Investors, says that kids can be generous with their time, especially if it’s a cause they value. 

Rather than imposing a cause on your kids, talk to them about the charities that interest them 

“Take a good example like Surfers Against Sewage,” says Ben. “They have a new campaign to get people back to beach cleaning after lockdown called ‘Million Mile Beach Clean’. 

“Making children aware of waste on beaches and its impact and letting others know how to stop littering when they see it happening can really change a child’s perspective. Children can be part of these beach cleans in a safely managed way.” 

Let them choose causes they care about 

Do you remember as a kid being asked to give money to a cause you’d never heard of and didn’t really understand? It’s not a positive first experience of charitable giving. 

So instead of imposing a cause on your kids, why not talk to them about the charities and organisations they might want to support? It might be a charity that works with their favourite animal or helping other children. 

Chat to them about the different kinds of charity and then perhaps search online together to find a cause they care about. 

Help make it feel real to them 

If you’re trying to encourage your child to donate a little money, then there are ways of making that more appealing to children. 

Some charities show you what your money can buy, for example, Refuge has a Christmas shopping list with toys for kids who’ve escaped violence that start at £5, or it’s possible to donate a chicken to a family that needs it via Oxfam for £15. 

That can feel more tangible to children (and adults!) than simply paying some cash. You could offer to match their donation if you can afford to, helping them afford a more exciting donation. 

If kids find it hard to donate old toys, get them to help sort out good quality clothes that no longer fit 

Get them donating old stuff 

As well as time and money, children can be encouraged to think about donating good quality toys or books they don’t use anymore. This also helps declutter bedrooms! So it’s a good one to do ahead of Christmas, birthdays or other gift-giving occasions. 

Some kids do find it hard to give up toys, even if they haven’t played with them for years. If they struggle, then you can get them to help sort out good quality clothes that no longer fit them. 

Talk about the benefits of giving them to a good cause and why it’s important to only give clothing that is still useful, not to just dump worn-out outfits. This is a good first step towards donating some of the toys they don’t play with anymore, especially if they can get involved in taking the haul to a charity shop. Being there when the giving happens can make it more meaningful and real. 

You could even get their input on which shop they want to support and let them spend some pocket money while you’re there. 

Tell them you’re proud of them 

Giving to charity should be its own reward, sure. But children do deserve a bit of extra encouragement and praise when they show empathy. 

Some enthusiastic pride now can help make that charitable behaviour a value they keep for the rest of their lives. 

And if you have children that are thinking about others, thinking about money and setting fundraising or volunteering goals, then you have a lot to be proud of, and so do they. 

3 things to do right now...

Lead by example. Small and regular donations as part of your lifestyle can teach them to be generous. 

Have a donation jar and encourage your little one to give 5% to 10% of their pocket money to the fund. 

Get them properly involved with small, interactive steps that will not only make charitable giving fun but also impactful. Ideas include a fundraising page, have a bake sale or film a smartphone video appeal for social media. 

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Don’t forget that while you may think that this article is brilliant, it is intended for information purposes only and should not be mistaken for financial advice or recommendations.