Teaching kids to give back
Teaching kids to give back

Eva Trachtenberg’s children learned about charity as soon as they could understand the concept.

The first time it came up was after a holiday and my son received some money,” the Saskatoon mother of four recalls. “I said, ‘We should donate it,’ and he didn’t know what that meant.”

From then on, she took every opportunity to talk about different charities and what they do: from the organization that helps their friends with juvenile diabetes to why the hospital was displaying an incubator at the local Walmart. She also enrolled her son in the youth branch of a charitable giving organization that Trachtenberg also joined.

Research shows that Trachtenberg’s approach is an effective one. According to one study* philanthropic priorities are strongly shaped by family behaviours. So parents and grandparents who give and volunteer are more likely to influence the next generations to do the same.

The study also found that, when we give, we create positive change in our communities. Being a donor is good for our mental and physical health and it reminds people how much they have.

Trachtenberg says she wants her children to “know that there are other people out there who are less fortunate and need our help.”

Here’s how to get your kids on the charitable giving path early.

Start talking By three or four years old, many children are ready to understand the basics of charity. At the grocery store, hockey rink or shopping centre, you can easily find opportunities to talk about and demonstrate donating and helping.

Be age appropriate Bringing a six-year-old to a shelter to serve Christmas dinner may be more of a hindrance than a help. It’s important to tailor the activity to the child’s abilities. This could mean helping make cookies for a charity bake sale or shovelling an elderly neighbour’s driveway.

Make it easy Involve your kids in something you already do, such as donating their old toys and clothes to charity. Explain that these things will help families in need and ask your child how they think the boys and girls receiving them will feel when they see their new things.

Let them decide Set up a charity jar and let your child decide how much of her allowance to donate as well as who should receive the proceeds. By being part of the decision-making process, your child will feel more ownership and pride in helping out.
Teaching children early about charitable giving can help them become lifelong philanthropists – and both your family and your community will reap the rewards. Your professional advisor can help you show your kids the value of giving within a financial plan that allows them to do so without risking their financial future.

This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Québec – a Financial Services
Firm), and Investors Group Securities Inc. (in Québec, a firm in Financial Planning) presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments. Contact your own advisor for specific advice about your circumstances. For more information on this topic please contact Sergiu Hirtescu, your Investors Group Consultant.