The ABCs of Kids’ Giving – Giving U™

post_sail_jake_and_erinGood habits start young, and charitable giving is no different.

That’s why for Christmas one year, I set up a charitable giving program with my nephew Jake, who was 11 at the time. (Note: I also got him some kind of fancy razor scooter to protect my “favorite auntie” status.)

I got this idea from Bill Clinton’s book Giving (admitted only ¼ read).  Each month, I gave Jake $40: $20 to spend and $20 to give to charity. To unlock the next month’s $40 check, all he all he had to do was tell me where he gave his donation and why.

During that time, here’s what I learned about encouraging kids to give:

shy_wolf_jake_and_momA:  Applicability – Jake and I would have tortuous discussions on the phone about where he could give (Remember, he’s a 11-year old boy – not the most talkative of species), so I would try to relate it to something he was currently doing.

For instance, while I was visiting over the Xmas holiday we went to this cool wolf preserve. They had a donation box set up, so I reminded him he could give to that charity to help save and heal captured wolves.  He liked that.

B:  Bribery – The thought of an 11-year getting $240 dollars a year ($120 to spend as he wished) was pretty key to getting him excited early on in the program. Well, in January anyway.

Throughout he was definitely more enthusiastic about talking about what he was going to spend his $20 on, then the $20 he was giving away. But baby steps….

C:   Consistency – One of the strongest notions I was trying to instill was the idea of giving on a regular basis and giving a percentage of income. Admittedly, a bit heady for the pre-teen crowd and a kid who is all about kung-fu movies.

Although come to think of it, he did end up giving very consistently to one type of charity: those associated with fast food restaurants.

See, my brother was a single dad at the time and he and Jake spent their fair share of time at drive-thru windows. So throughout the spring, Jake was giving to The Ronald McDonald House, Wendy’s Dave Thomas’s Foundation for Adoption, Burger King’s Have it Your Way Foundation.

I think the program effectively ended when they ran out of the burger joints.

I was disappointed that the program only lasted 6 months, but I think in part, it was because I was trying to conduct this particular giving campaign long distance, and the onus was on his dad or grandma to actually drive him to the wolf preserve to give or to do the border run to Taco Bell.

I haven’t given up my kid’s charity scheme though. I’m just waiting for the next big gift that he wants and I’ll link a donation to charity with that particular prize. See again “B” for bribery.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 and is filed under The Giving Guide.

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