Encouraging philanthropy in kids starts at home. Being an example of what Mr. Rogers called helpers, we show our children how to behave, how to treat others, and how to give back.
Mr. Rogers said, “Look for the helpers,” as his mother told him to do when he was a scared boy.
As a leader in the nonprofit world, I support the helpers by providing guidance to boards of directors and teams. I love finding ways for a nonprofit to perform better than last month, quarter, or year. We nerd out on the numbers. We encourage each other. We identify ways to utilize volunteers toward the mission of the organization. In my personal life, I support my son in being empathetic toward others.
Not everyone has the same resources. When my son was born, I was receiving aid from the government as a single mom. That experience played a role in my life and how I raised my son. People were generous to us, so I encouraged him to give back.
We pick projects or activities that he likes, and even if I don’t like them, I want him to understand he is supported in his community efforts. Of course, we also have activities we like to do together like being good stewards of the environment by not littering when we go hiking or camping.
Children learn from what they see and experience. When they give back, they become more aware of the challenges others face. They develop a sense of compassion for others and the environment.
When my son and I go hiking or camping, we pick up trash left by others. We are stewards of the environment. If we each do a little, we can accomplish a lot.
In my article Raise Them Kind, I shared the story of how I was trying to rent skis while also hoping to not be late for a dinner reservation. In the process, the salesperson was telling my son and I about a foundation that helps employees in need of financial assistance. My son asked what the biggest donation had been so far. Then he turned to me to ask if we could double the donation. The salesperson was floored. I wasn’t because I know I’ve raised my son to be kind. We are fortunate to be able to help others, which is exactly what we did.
How can you raise them kind? A simple donation or taking an angel from a holiday tree set up at the mall or church. Each angel is a wish list for a person in need. It might be a pair of socks, an outfit for school, or a toy. Include your child in the process of selecting an angel. Give them a budget and go shopping for your angel together. Make it a fun learning experience for them. In doing so, you’re showing them how they can help others.
When you can bring your children to a volunteer event, take them. My son knows how deeply involved in the nonprofit world I am, so he has grown up with a good sense of helping people. Community service is important in our family. We’ve been recipients of stewardship so for me, it is an opportunity to pay it forward.
It doesn’t need to be complicated. Be the helpers.
● Involvement in school philanthropy projects.
● Volunteer at places where you can take your children to participate.
● Go through old toys and books and encourage kids to donate to those less fortunate.
● Teach older kids how to budget and include giving back a percentage of their allowance or earnings to a charity of their choice.
● Support their volunteer interests.
Encourage children to give back. Each small act adds to a better world.
Whether you’re selecting an angel to sponsor for the holidays, picking up trash along the trail, or raising money for a cause, encourage philanthropy in kids by being an example. Our communities can use more people like you.