Programs are popping up in North America and the UK which educate children and teens about evaluating charitable causes before donating money to them. The programs, which teach students while they are sitting at their school desks, are designed to infuse students with a philanthropic outlook which will force charities to become more efficient, transparent, and accountable.
Ben Allcock, a fund-raiser for the Oxfordshire Association for the Blind says that the initiatives “can help create a cultural change. There’s a great potential for people to give much more intelligently.”
At one school in the UK students learn from the age of about 12 about charitable giving through a program called Philanthropy in Schools. This project started about 3 years ago and was developed by the Dragon School alongside an umbrella organization called The Big Give. This group collates information from over 7,000 charities worldwide.
“I had no idea how many different charities there were and now understand how hard it is to choose,” says one girl in the program. “I also did not realize that you have to read into it with so much depth. I had never thought about looking at the annual income” of a charity, she says.
What an idea! To create a club for kids where the emphasis is on how the members can help others in their community. Members of Kids Care Clubs often begin volunteering as young as pre-school age. Activities are suited to children from age five until thirteen, and by joining the network of Clubs they will receive all the information and resources needed to get involved and stay involved.
After spending the entire day surrounded by school furniture, children are excited and motivated to join with their friends and concerned adults to get out into the community and help. Using schools, religious institutions and community centers, Kids Care Clubs organize those that want to help into vibrant, active groups which can accomplish much more than individuals on their own. At the moment there are over 1,800 registered Clubs with 80,000 active children in the US, Australia, China, Canada and Nepal.
Every month Kids Care Clubs post on their website different service projects that need doing. The projects come with step-by-step instructions, issues education, activities for meetings, and more resources and information about potential partners. The projects span the gamut of today’s most pressing issues such as: literacy, hunger, poverty, illness, and elderly or important yearly milestone days like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; Earth Day; and Veteran’s Day.
This video explains why in the case of teaching about charities and the importance of giving with our children, discussing the issue frankly works better than role modeling.
There are other places to learn lessons than sitting in school chairs. Perhaps the best place to learn the importance of giving charity is at home. Since most children are born with an innate sense of compassion and charity, it should not be too hard to get the message across that it’s an essential part of life to give of yourself to others less fortunate.
Unfortunately there is so much to distract us from the act of giving that this lesson can be hard to share. Today it seems our children are more focused on the latest electronic gadgets, stylish clothing and yummy treats than they are on the essentials that other people are lacking. But check it out: See if your 2-year old does not try to comfort a crying baby with a soft toy, or your 5-year old helping his friend who just got into a fight with the playground bully.
“Children naturally look for ways to make a contribution and help others,” says Deborah Spaide, founder of Kids Care Clubs, a national organization based in New Canaan, CT, that provides information on community-service projects for youngsters. “But just as we give our children opportunities to use their legs when they’re learning to walk, we need to give them opportunities to exercise their charitable muscles so they become really good at giving too.”
There is no question that advanced telecommunications has made the world a much smaller place. There is no famine, earthquake or war that takes place anywhere in the world that we don’t know about. And, as a consequence of our knowing, we want to help.
Teaching our children the value and beauty of giving to others less fortunate than ourselves is one of the most important gifts we can give to our children. But how do we, as parents and educators, go about such an important task?
Be a role model for your children, show that you care about other’s misfortune. Show sympathy when a disaster is reported on the other side of the world, and then show your children that you are ready to do something about it. Send spare blankets to the Red Cross. Donate clothing to the Salvation Army. Give money to people you see on the street collecting for others or for themselves. Donate money for classroom chairs or classroom desks in underprivileged places. The most important thing is to show that you care. Your children will get the message, and they will begin to care, too.
One great fundraising event to do through a school is a race night. As Fundeo explains, “Hold a race night event. A Fundeo race night is very easy to organise and great fun it makes a great social event too. It can be run as a family event, or as an ‘adults’ only night – you just choose a film category (‘U’, ’12’ or ’15’ age group), personalise it as much as you wish and order online in our shop. It couldn’t be easier. Ideal for club, school, PTA, corporate, church or charity fundraising. It is easy to find a venue too whether its a village hall, a local club or pub. Your local pub will be delighted to host the event too because a pub race night promises thriving bar sales at the event.”
Here is a video that can help teachers and school administrators to make charity work more popular in the schools.
There are many ways we educate our children, and most of those ways to not involve sitting behind classroom furniture. Rather, they are actions we take to show what is important to us. Here is a list of some things parents can do to teach their children the value of giving.
• Donate Clothing: Periodically go through your closets and drawers in search of clothes which are still in good condition, but for whatever reason, are not worn any more. Help your children do the same thing with their own clothing. With your children in tow bring the clothing to the Salvation Army or Goodwill, and have the volunteer there explain what their organization will now do with the clothes. This is one lesson that you can be sure your children will not forget.
• Be a Helpful Neighbor: “Charity begins at home” is a wise saying. After your needs and the needs of your family are met, the next place to help someone is right in your own neighborhood. Perhaps you have an elderly neighbor that needs some groceries that you can pick up for her. Maybe there is a new mom on your street that can use a hot cooked meal or someone to babysit older children so she can get some rest. Being a helpful neighbor breeds a feeling of friendship and closeness that makes life deep and meaningful.
• Set a wonderful example of giving by donating blood. This life-saving activity shows you care at the most basic level, and will impress your children with the importance of this simple, generous act.
Get your kids involved in reaching out and helping beyond their classroom tables. Let them come up with their own ideas of how to make their world a better place to live.