Looking for ways to help your kids look outside themselves in the giving season? It’s very easy for younger children to be especially focused on the gifts they receive in December, rather than the gifts they give. Here are ten ways we’ve seen parents engage kids of all ages and give one of the greatest gifts of all: generosity.
1. Give them each a dollar amount to give away. Pick an amount corresponding to their age – perhaps $5, $10 or $50 times their age – and let them choose from a list of nonprofits. My favorite part of this strategy is seeing how each child’s unique personality influences his or her choice individually.
2. Identify a needy family and give to them anonymously. Organizations like Helping Hands Ministries make it possible to turn needs you see into needs you meet. This idea teaches your kids to be aware of needs existing around them.
3. Let them choose a specific way to help the developing world. A number of organizations allow you to identify specific items to give. For instance, through World Vision’s Christmas Giving Catalogue your kids could choose from hundreds of gifts: seeds and tools for farmers in Haiti ($30), vocational training for sexually exploited girls in Thailand ($35), or a goat for a needy family in Uganda ($75).
4. Volunteer as a family at a local shelter or ministry. Over two-thirds of volunteering adults began giving their time as young people, so get your kids hooked! My extended family served the homeless at Hope Faith Ministries last Christmas, and we were still talking about it this last Thanksgiving. In addition to helping the nonprofit, it gets us out of the house – and serving – together.
5. Setup Giving Funds for them to “spend”. Start a Servant Giving Fund for each of your children. This acts as a designated giving account, allowing them to make ongoing decisions about how they give. Suggest they each write about their giving experiences and choices, then share next time you’re together as a family.
6. Help them sponsor a child their age. Compassion International and similar organizations allow you to learn about the child you’re helping. Trading letters with sponsored children can be impactful for writer and reader. Smaller organizations like Africa New Life and Oceans of Mercy work in specific communities, allowing you to track progress and grow your style of giving as your kids grow.
7. Make your giving decisions as a family. Whether you’re giving $100 or $100,000 this year, have a conversation about the organizations you support. Ask your kids to dream about how they would give away a million dollars. Pray as a family about what God would like you to do.
8. Let them buy a favorite toy to give to a child in need. Participate in Toys for Tots or send gifts to the kids of your missionaries. Locally, Operation Breakthrough has a program through which families can provide gifts and a Christmas meal for struggling families in the Kansas City area.
9. Send cards of encouragement. For younger children, help them make cards to send to troops serving, missionaries with your church, or local servants like firemen and police. Create artwork or bake goodies together to encourage the recipients.
10. Match their gifts. If your children are adults, challenge them by matching the dollars they give. This allows you to get involved but also helps them work through their own budgeting and giving decisions.