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How to teach children about Charity

What is the importance of charity?

Charities play an essential role in society. A charity helps people realise that it is possible to help others in a world full of uncertainties and chaos. Giving to charity gives a deeper meaning to life and helps us see our purpose to the people in our society.

What is the definition of charity?

  • Generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering/also aid given to those in need.
  • An institution engaged in relief of the poor.
  • Public provision for the relief of the needy.
  • Benevolent goodwill toward of love of humanity.
  • A gift for public benevolent purposes.
  • An institution (such as a hospital founded by such a gift).
  • Lenient judgment of others.

As parents we want to raise compassionate and kind children who strive to make this world a better place. How can we help them understand the importance of being charitable? It’s great for people to make financial donations to charities but this can be a hard concept for children to understand and participate in.

We need to help Children understand what charity means and a good way of explaining it is to simply say that charity means helping others in need. They may already see you helping a neighbour or family member with their shopping or raising free donations when shopping online via our website, for example. These are good examples for them of how to be kind and helpful to others. It’s important to praise children when they do something charitable and let them know how generous they are being.

The best way for children to really understand is for them to be actively involved in their charitable activities.

So here are some suggestions from who believe that to make the most meaningful impact on our children, they should be actively involved and able to relate to the cause.

Donate: Financial donations can be impactful for kids if it’s from their own hard-earned money. As you’re teaching your child about finance, start a save/spend/share jar system. From their share jar, help them find a charity that they can relate to.
Children can make their donations direct to the cause of choice. If the cause does not have that facility, direct donations can be made via TheGivingMachine website. All 10,000+ causes on our platform have a DonateNow button on their cause page for donations to be made direct to them.

Give a gift to a child in need:  There are multiple ways to do this. You could call your local hospital and see if they would accept gifts for their paediatric patients. 

Throw a holiday giving party: There are endless ways to throw a party for a good cause. Throw a craft party where the kids make cards for troops overseas or decorations for a nursing home. Or ask each friend to bring a gently used toy that can be donated.

Start in your own neighbourhood: Do you have an elderly neighbour who lives alone? Bake something with the kids to take to them. Or set up a stand in your neighbourhood with winter treats and donate the proceeds. Sometimes the simplest actions have the largest impacts.

Visit a nursing home: Have your child make cards or treats and deliver them to a local nursing home. Or just visit! Kids can make a huge impact by just spending time reading, talking or playing games with the residents.

Support a local family: Contact your local church or social services office and ask if there’s a family you could help this season. Your family can bring over gifts, holiday meals or help decorate their house.

Build a house: Kids learn in a tangible way how they can make a positive impact by volunteering to build houses. If they are too little to actually work, they can hand out snacks and drinks to the volunteers.

Start a class project: No better way to engage kids than by making them the leader. Help your child set up a donation jar or coat / food drive in their classroom. They can make signs and recruit volunteers.

How do we teach our children the importance of charity work? Show them that their actions, no matter how small, can make a big difference. As we've mentioned before, they will follow your example so if they see you being charitable they will be keen to follow in your footsteps and will grow up knowing this is the right thing to do. Share your passion for doing good with your children.

Here are some easy ways to teach your children about charity without a financial commitment. (source:

Show them that they already do it: Smiling at someone on the street, holding doors open for people or visiting a sick relative is still charity because it warms someone’s heart. Most children already do these things, but they will be pleased to learn that they’re helping out.

Let them choose their own causes: Suggest some causes to your child and let them choose one that matters to them. They’re more likely to want to support a cause that they know about and identify with. Be sensitive to their age and introduce causes that match their interests. Children’s hospitals where they can donate old toys or local farms where they can play with the animals and donate money often work well for children.

Make it a family affair: Lead by example and let them see you drop money into charity boxes, ask them to help you pick out canned foods during a food drive or take them along when you participate in fundraising events. It gives you an opportunity to discuss why it’s important to give and how rewarding it can be.

Teach them the value of time: With limited financial means it can be hard for children to donate money. Use this as a chance to teach them that they have a much more valuable resource than cash – they have time, which can be just as powerful. Encourage them to help neighbours with small jobs and if they are older, help them to volunteer at local clubs, hospitals and take part in charitable events at school.

Celebrate: When your children give, tell them that you’re proud of them. Show them pictures and thank you notes from the places they have helped, so they can see the impact and feel appreciated for their contributions.

Teaching children the importance of charity and giving back can be easier said than done. You want your child to be involved but perhaps they are too young to participate or understand. You want to tell them how important it is to be charitable and how there are so many people in need but you don’t want to scare them or overwhelm them with the horrors of the world. suggest you start the conversation about charity and giving back using these examples:

Encourage Gratitude: In addition to being kind and compassionate, another everyday behaviour to nurture is gratitude. Explain to your child that some people have more than them, but many people have less. If you have food to eat, a warm home, and a loving family, you are one of the lucky ones. The best way to do this is through example. Show your appreciation for the little things in life, and your child will be less likely to take things for granted. Ask your child what they are thankful for, or to list three good things that happened today. A general sense of gratitude encourages compassion and fuels the desire to give back.

Show Your Child the Good, in the Bad: Your child probably will hear about major tragedies through school or friends, and ask you about them. Once you’ve explained to them what happened, use this conversation as an opportunity to show your child the good in people. Talk about the community who helped those involved. Read them the stories in the news about the people who volunteered. Ask your child to think of other ways that they could help. Children are incredibly thoughtful and may think of something that you didn’t, such as writing letters of encouragement to the children affected by a tragedy.

Get Them Involved: You don’t have to wait for disaster to strike, or an organised community event to get your child started with giving back. There are countless ways every day that children can get involved. Below are examples of unstructured activities that children of any age can do at any time.

  • On especially cold days, hand out coffee or tea to neighbourhoods power company workers, mailman, or police officers. Hand out lemonade or water on hot days.
  • Pick up litter at school, church, around your neighbourhood, or park. (Remember to wear gloves!)
  • Ask for gifts to a charity instead of birthday gifts. This is a tough one for young kids to swallow (understandably). A less extreme option is to ask friends to bring a gently used book or toy to donate, in addition to a small gift for your child.
  • Ask your local pet shelter if you can come play with the cats or walk the dogs.
  • Help out around your neighbourhood. Clean up after a storm, offer to help shovel snow from an elderly neighbours’ driveway, or rake their leaves.

Donating Money: One of the most important financial lessons a child can learn is that money can do good! Once your child understands the importance of charity, and are incorporating it in their daily activities, giving financially will make sense to them. One way to do this is through the 3-Piggy-Bank System: Save, Spend, Share. Each time your child gets money through allowance or gifts, ask them to split it between the three piggy banks. Then help them think of what they want to do with their “share” jar. If you have an animal lover, maybe they can buy food for the local animal shelter. Just make sure it’s something they care about and are involved in choosing and executing the project.

When deciding how best to support your child and encourage their charitable characteristics, it’s best to think about what works well for their age range. Toddlers work best with activities that show generous behaviour such as sharing. This can be developed when children are 3-5 years old and start to feel empathy, and therefore start to understand the importance of being charitable. As children grow into teenagers, they often respond better to peer-group based experiences, so group volunteering works best for this age group.

By instilling these values in them now, giving will continue to be a part of their everyday life. The children who are taught to give back while young will be able to change the world as adults.

P.S. Why not get your childrens’ creative juices flowing and set them one of these challenges:

  • Random act of kindness: Get the whole family involved and reward the most creative person with a non-financial treat, such as their favourite dinner.
  • Pay it forward: Ask your children to do something nice for three other people each time someone does something nice for them, and teach them to share the joy of receiving
  • #givingtuesday: why not get them to plan something special for the whole family to celebrate this year’s #givingtuesday!


About the author

Luisa Gatward

Our Head of Operations, Luisa is responsible for the smooth running of all operations including marketing and partner relationships. Having started working for TheGivingMachine in 2010, she has seen our Charity grow and develop into what we have today.

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