With a constant stream of requests for money and support coming from local and national charities, choosing a charity to support may seem a bit overwhelming. If you don’t have time to research each one thoroughly, you may find yourself responding to the marketing or fundraising materials or just picking one and hoping the organization does good work. Finding a charity to support and become involved with, however, can be a great family activity-a chance to learn about giving and nonprofit work together and a way for children to become integrally involved in giving back to the community and helping out others.
Depending on the age of the children, some preparation work may need to be done. A parent or older child can do the research and put together a report or “present” on several organizations and then the family can discuss and decide which one or ones that should be supported. Additionally, children may hear about charity organizations at church, school or through other social involvements and they can be encouraged to share these organizations with the family. If there is an open environment for discussion, parents can help children to explore the organizations or causes further and investigate whether or not they could be a good fit for the family as a whole.
Another good family activity is to hold a family meeting to make decisions about which organizations or causes to donate to. Establish a budget for the month or year and discuss whether or not to give the entire amount to one organization or project, or to divide up the money to different causes. Each child or family member could present a cause or organization and like a grantmaking organization, the family members can vote or decide how much of the charitable donation budget to give to each cause. Children and family members can learn how to ask important questions such as who is going to be helped by the money? What will the donation buy or support? How much of the donation goes to administrative costs? And what sort of accountability does the organization have?
The more involved children are allowed to be in learning about charitable causes and different ways to be involved, the more likely it is that they will be donors and volunteers themselves. Children can learn confidence in working with charitable causes, as well as how to investigate, support and evaluate the work that various organizations are doing. By making choosing and supporting charities a family affair, children learn valuable skills as well as experience being part of an involved family that cares about the community.