Five ways to get your children involved in charitable giving

When it comes to giving, starting early is best

Rosie Murray-West – Virgin Money Living Mentor

by Rosie Murray-West | Independent Money Mentor

Award-winning personal finance and news journalist

Sometimes it is hard enough to get a child to share a toy with a sibling, let alone think about how to give to those less fortunate than themselves. But by making charitable giving part of everyday life, parents can ensure that their children become adults who are generous givers.

1. Talk about it

You might think that growing up in a family that gives to charity is enough to make children givers, but academic research suggests that isn’t true. Mark Ottoni Wilhelm, Director of the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis, published a paper on what makes children give to charity. His conclusion? Talking to children makes them more likely to give, but ‘role-modelling’ (i.e. giving yourself) doesn’t have the same effect. So, if you’re already regularly giving money away, sit down and talk to your children about it too.

2. Get involved with what's out there

As a parent, you can support the initiatives that are already out there to get children thinking about others. 

“Schools do loads of fundraising events, from twinning with schools abroad and charity fun days to raising some money, so encourage them to get involved – it’s great fun to bake some cakes for the school fete,” says Ben Russell, Director of Communications at the Charities Aid Foundation, an organisation that helps individuals give to charity.

“If they are a bit older, lots of schools offer things like the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, which are a great way to get volunteering, and local groups like sports clubs or the Scouts and Guides are always looking for teenagers to get involved and help out.”

3. Let children choose their own causes

Feeling connected to a charity is a great way to ensure that children want to give, so sit down with them and ask which causes matter to them. There’s a website called Charity Choice that allows you to search charities by topic. So if your son or daughter is most interested in animals, or in healthcare, they can find a charity to fit.

4. Read the news together

Children who know what is going on in the world are more likely to want to respond to it, so trying to instil a love of current affairs at an early age will help raise children who give. There are newspapers and news magazines aimed at children, including The Week Junior, and First News, which try to cover world news in an age-appropriate way. If your child would rather watch than read, then CBBC’s Newsround fulfils a similar function. 

5. Match fund them

Employers and charities know that match funding – when a third-party promises to match the amount you give to charity with a similar amount – encourages people to give, in fact recent research showed that 84% of people felt they were more likely to give to charity if match funding was available. You can do the same with your children, offering to double any charitable donation they make, so that they feel that they are really making a difference.

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