The following article is by Kristi Muse, our staff writer. She is a freelance writer, blogger, police officer’s wife, and stay at home mom of two. To read more about how she tries to live a balanced life visit her website at Moderate Muse.
Personal finance websites, investing companies, and money management gurus all highlight the benefits of teaching children early and often about how to manage their money. A common method for helping children to understand money management is having them parcel out their money into four different accounts: Save, spend, donate, and invest. You can even buy your kids a partitioned piggy bank for just this purpose.
Most people agree that teaching about saving, investing, and spending are all crucial for a child to develop great money-management skills. Not everyone agrees about the importance of donating though. This is a shame, because donating money teaches so much more than just giving some money to others now and again. Here are five reasons you should strongly encourage your child to donate to charity.
1. Giving instills the valuable trait of empathy
Empathy is innate, but it is best when nurtured. The world would be a much better place if more people felt true empathy for those less fortunate than themselves and acted accordingly. Having children donate their money from a young age teaches them that even the smallest child can make a big difference in the lives of others. They will learn that you don’t have to have experienced personal or physical tragedy to have compassion for others. Many professions, like doctors, nurses, and psychiatrists, require a strong sense of empathy. By nurturing this trait in your child from a young age, you may actually be helping them be successful in their future career.
2. Charity work produces grateful kids
By exposing your kids to different charities from an early age, they will learn that there are all kinds of people and life experiences in this world. They will begin to see and truly understand that there will always be someone less fortunate. Grasping this concept early will help your kids to grow up with a grateful attitude. Children who truly appreciate what they have will be far less likely to be swept under by consumerism debt in the future.
3. Donating encourages your child’s passions
Have your child pick their own charity to donate to. If your kid loves to read, suggest that they donate their money or new books to Books for Africa. If they love the outdoors, suggest donating to the National Park Trust. Whatever your child is most passionate about, steer them towards a related charity. Children will develop a sense of pride in earning money to give to something they love. It will simultaneously encourage their passions while getting them involved in projects which could someday lead to their chosen profession. Kids who donate to animal charities may end up as veterinarians. Those who donate to wildlife conservation groups may end up as biologists. You never know what effect their charitable donations will have on their life.
4. Donating teaches basic math and money management skills
The simple act of deciding which percentage of their money to donate is a lifelong skill in money management. Learning how to separate their money into different accounts is a great way to teach about percentages, fractions, and decimals. Physically handling their money, doing the necessary math, and figuring out how much goes into each account is a skill that even some adults struggle with.
5. Philanthropy work is essential for college applications
Even if none of the above reasons could compel you to strongly encourage your child to get involved in donating to charity, eventually they will have to have some sort of charity work listed for their college applications. Whether it’s hosting a toy drop off during the holidays, putting together a charity event, or simply donating their time and money to the local homeless shelter and food pantry, colleges want to see prospective students list philanthropy work of any kind. The longer your child has been involved with philanthropy work the better it will look on college applications. Kids who have been donating their time and money to charitable organizations from a young age will be excited to list that activity as one of their activities, and charity work won’t be contrived when it’s time to fill out those forms.
Donating to charity has so many benefits outside of the obvious. Along with nurturing their empathy and instilling money management skills, they will also learn integrity and social responsibility by giving away a portion of their money. Helping others and contributing to something outside of themselves will teach kids how to become honorable and respectable adults, and it will help give them a bigger sense of purpose. Learning from a young age to have concern for others could even help direct their careers in the future.
Do you encourage your child to donate to charity? If you do, what organizations do they like to give to?
Image credit: Flickr by HowardLake