Statistically, 84% of Canadians make donations every year. Categorically, the majority of those fall in the 35 to 54-year-old range. With studies showing that volunteer work tends to increase with age, how can we engage the next generation of volunteers and donors?
On the one hand, it makes sense – our kids’ attention is pulled in so many directions that it can be difficult to reach them. Kids are connected to the internet and technology daily. As a result, they are constantly bombarded with marketing collateral. It’s to the extent that they’ve learned how to tune it out.
Sparking the spirit of philanthropy in our youth and kids is important. If we’re able to plant the seed early, it’s more than possible to shape a nation of young people who are ready and able to do their part to help make their communities – and indeed, the world – a better place. Now, more than ever, is a great time to engage them in activities that they’ll get something out of, but that also allows them to give back.
To follow are some ideas on how to spark the spirit of philanthropy in your kids.
The Power of Volunteering
By far, volunteering is one of the best fun activities that kids can use to both remain active and contribute to their communities at the same time. The best part of this is that volunteering doesn’t have to involve some major activity – oftentimes the smallest gestures make the biggest impact on those around us.
Here are some ideas to try with your kids:
- Reach out to your local senior center to see if they have any residents who might want a pen pal. The organization Letters Against Isolation also accepts handwritten notes to distribute to the elderly. Get your kids practicing their handwriting and spreading some cheer at the same time!
- Gather gently used toys and donate them to an organization. This is an easy way to teach about the power of giving and receiving. One idea is to try a “one-for-one” holiday wish list idea; for every item on your kid’s wish list, have them donate one of their items. Then, take those items to the places you may not think of for donations. Daycare centers, shelters and community centers are a few examples.
- Support your local animal shelter. If you’re a family of animal lovers with the time and space to spare, you can look into fostering a new furry friend. If you’re not able to take that on, you can still find ways to help your local animal shelter. Shelters often accept gently used water and food bowls, leashes, collars, and pet beds, as well as cleaning supplies and other necessities—check with your local shelter to find out what they need. You can also get the little ones involved in making your no-sew dog toys. Visit Imagine Our Life to get the instructions.
- Organize the collection of coats and gently used winter boots to donate to a local shelter. This could involve your family and friends. Encourage your kids to reach out to friends and family to ask for donations. Decide on a goal you’d like to reach. For example, 10 coats and pairs of boots to deliver after New Year’s Day.
- Encourage your child to learn about volunteering and let them decide what they’d like to do to give back. Not only will this teach them about volunteering but help them recognize how they’d like to give back.
The Benefits of Fundraising and Donating
Another great thing to do with your kids while everyone is stuck indoors is to let them come up with some types of activities, particularly summer ones, that can then be turned into fundraisers. It doesn’t have to be massive – even something like collecting and returning bottles and cans, after which you then donate the deposit, can go a long way towards improving our communities.
Additional ideas include letting your kids run a garage sale or lemonade stand or having them cut grass or do other odd jobs – so long as they donate their earnings, of course. You could even contact local businesses to see if they’ll sponsor your kids for things like trash pick-up and other item collection.
The Importance of Acts of Kindness
More than anything else, it’s about helping our kids understand that the simplest acts of kindness are the greatest forms of giving back.
Teach them the joy that only comes with baking cookies for friends or neighbors. Let them experience walking someone’s dog for the sheer fun of it, without expecting anything in return. Get them to help older or disabled neighbors put out and bring back their trash and recycling cans.
It’s a truly great way to teach them the value of a simple act of kindness – which in and of itself is the most important benefit of all.
In the end, it’s important to teach kids at an early age that even the smallest actions can sometimes create a ripple effect in the best possible way. What you do and what you contribute to can and will make an impact.