While many parents strive to teach their children money management skills, it’s also a great idea to help teach them to be financially generous. Many of us donate to charities or fundraisers to help people or organizations in need, and anyone who has children can follow some of these tips to help teach their kids about financial generosity as well:
Lead By Example
If you’re going to teach your children to be financially generous, you should lead by example. Most young children imitate their parents, and you don’t want to get stuck telling them to do something that you don’t participate in. A great way to encourage them is by showing them where you donate to charity or where you volunteer for a specific organization.
Teach Financial Responsibility
Another excellent way to teach your children about financial generosity is to do so while you’re teaching them about financial responsibility. A common way to do this is by using the “three envelopes” method. You can take three envelopes or jars (or any container of your choice) and have them separate money into piles for saving, spending, or giving. Some parents add a fourth for investing. The money they put away can be money from their weekly allowances, birthdays, or holiday gifts, but it’s important to teach them the reasons that it’s in their best interest to separate out this money for different purposes rather than simply spend it all.
Another way to teach kids about financial generosity is by encouraging them to donate items to charities. This can take the form of choosing cans to donate to a food pantry or picking out gifts to donate to an organization around the holidays. Or you can have them pick a charity or organization they want to donate to if you’re looking to get them more personally involved. You are likely to have more success if you let your children choose what organizations they are most interested in and then encourage them to make donations once they have chosen. In all likelihood, each child will have different interests and donate toward different causes, but still get the same important lesson.
In much the same way that giving donations is a great way to teach financial generosity, volunteering is also an excellent way to do this. It’s important for kids to understand that financial generosity doesn’t always have to be about writing a check to a charity or dropping a couple of dollars into a donation container. Sometimes offering to volunteer counts as well. Having your children volunteer an afternoon or a couple of hours of week for a cause that they believe in can be a great way of teaching them about financial generosity, not to mention it’s an experience that can really help them out down the road.
Take on a Family Project
While simply donating money is a wonderful way to support a cause or foundation, sometimes children don’t really understand the purpose behind it. A great way to get them more involved is by taking on a family project. This works especially well when children are young and may not have yet chosen specific causes that they like for themselves. Everyone can sit down and decide together what charity or organization that they want to help out. This is a wonderful way to get your children to become more hands-on about donating both their time and money.
Acknowledge Instead of Reward
If your child is already generous by nature, or takes your advice to heart, it’s important to remember to acknowledge their generosity rather than reward them monetarily for it. Many people like to reward their children for generous acts thinking that this will encourage them to do this more, but it could actually have negative connotations. For instance, they could start only performing generous or kind acts with the expectation to be rewarded afterward. You should encourage them to be financially generous without expecting compensation for the act.
Sometimes children don’t always understand why they should be financially generous. This can be an opportunity to raise awareness about different causes and organizations, as well as awareness about what it means to be financially generous. it’s also a great opportunity to explain that there are many differences in the world, and even in their own country. Providing them with explanations and examples can help encourage them to be financially generous in the future.
Make the Experience Hands-On
As stated earlier in this article, making an experience hands-on can be a great way to help your child become more involved in financially generous acts. For a lot of people – adults as well as children – physically doing something creates a greater impact and a greater sense of personal pride and inclusion. Having your child work as a member on a food drive or raise money for an event or charity might make them feel more involved in the process and help encourage them to do similar acts in the future.
Teach Them Why It’s Important
While you can raise awareness about different charities or the needs of different people, it’s also important to teach your children why being financially generous is important. There should be plenty of opportunities where you will have the chance to do this, but you need to take the time to explain to the child rather than just do it and assume they understand why. When you do something financially for others, explain why it’s important to you to have done that. That gives the child an opportunity to consider your reasons and make similar decisions on their own.
Encourage Generous Acts
Encouraging your children to be financially generous is probably one of the most important lessons you can give them. This can be anything from supporting them if they choose something as simple as bringing in a can of food for a school food drive to praising them for something as little as donating a few coins to a charity donation box. A simple act can go a very long way and it’s important to remind them of that.
(Photo courtesy of Alameda County Community Food Bank)