How to Share the Season of Giving with Your Children


As adults, we understand that giving comes from a place of deep gratitude. For children, this is a much more difficult concept to grasp. Most kids get the hang of “mine” pretty quickly, but “give” and “share” feel like an uphill battle with little ones.

For parents who want to plant the seed for future money conversations, I recommend the Save, Spend, Give jars because they encourage money management at an early age. Spend is the easiest to understand. Save is a little trickier yet not impossible. But Give…how do you convince a child who just finished their chores to give away part of their allowance?

In my years as a mom, I’ve learned a thing or two about teaching children the beauty of giving. The secret is to show little ones how great it feels to share your blessings with others, instead of just telling them. Here are my favorite ways to make giving part of our family’s financial education.

The Giving Experience

My daughter’s a shopper. And I guess it’s true when they say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But in our shopping trips together, I noticed that she loves the store experience more than bringing the toy home.

That’s when it occurred to me: Why not introduce giving as an opportunity to shop for someone else? I realized that what my daughter needed was to feel part of the giving experience. So, we decided to save $5 in her Give jar and that, once we reached that amount, we would make her first donation.

Finding a Cause That Matters to You

She did it! She saved the $5 and was ready to buy her donation. But how do you know what to buy when you don’t know who you’re shopping for?

It dawned on me that the next step of my daughter’s giving was to find something or someone to donate to. We discussed giving to various charities, but in the end she chose the Blessing Box. We took her $5 and headed straight for the non-perishables aisle of the store.

As she hand-picked five items to take to the Blessing Box, the concept of giving actually clicked! She felt excited and happy to be able to share her “monies” with another family. She finally understood what the process was all about because she got to experience it!

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Donations do more than just helping those in need. They’re also an act of kindness that feels great for the giver, and my little one was very quick to pick up on that. Soon enough, she started asking about other charities where she could make donations. These are two of our favorite giving opportunities:

Pajama Drives

Pajama drives are a great fundraiser for preschool and elementary schools.  They show children how their contributions can provide another child with pajamas that feel cozy at night. Not having warm pajamas is something that children can relate to and feel compassion towards.

School Fundraisers

During the giving season, schools ramp up their annual fundraisers. Rather than doing the legwork yourself, put your kids to the task! After all, school is like a second home for kids, and they benefit directly from the donations that the school receives.

When it’s time to raise money for your children’s school, sit them down and make a list of family and friends that you believe will donate. Then, give the phone over to your child and let them work their magic!

Before doing this, our family practiced for a week. We learned that we needed to create and that phone skills are important to learn at a young age. Here’s how our script went:

“Hey Grandpa, it’s ______.  My school is raising money for ______. This is important to me because________. Will you donate $_______ to help us meet our goal?”

Multiply the Donations

A lot of school fundraising programs provide rewards along the way to the child who raises the most money.  It’s a great incentive, plus it’s an opportunity for you to encourage ownership of the process.

I told my daughter, “However much money you earn and contribute to the fundraiser out of your Give jar, I will match. If you give $5, then I will give an extra $5. If you give $10, then I will give $10.”

For kids, this feels like a challenge. And when they have some skin in the game, children are inclined to rise to the occasion.

This matching tactic isn’t only for the Giving jar. It also works when asking family and friends to donate to the cause.

Make it Fun!

Create a fun experience out of giving and do it together as a family.  Help your children understand how giving is better than receiving.

  • Get the whole family together to make the fundraising calls. Make an afternoon out of it and order pizza for the entire gang!
  • Make jewelry and sell it for a good cause. Kids aren’t shy to set up a table on the sidewalk and showcase their creations. It’s also a great opportunity to sharpen their sales skills!
  • Participate in the angel tree at your church. Each family member could be financially responsible for an item on the list and then you take them together.
  • Instead of receiving gifts at a birthday party, opt for a charitable donation. A friend of mine hosted an “Adopt a Pet” themed birthday party. In lieu of gifts for their child, they requested dog supplies to give to their local Humane Society.
  • Short on cash? Teach your children the value of donating their time at an animal shelter, public library, or by making cards for hospital patients.

The season of giving is a great time to show our kids that sharing is the best gift of all. When you make gratitude and kindness part of your family’s financial habits, you also teach your kids to make the world a better place.

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