Kid-Friendly Charities to Encourage Your Children to Give

Filed under: Work Life

When we started giving my 5-year-old daughter an allowance a few months back, we gave her three choices. She could take her five $1 bills and either put them into her piggy bank to save, a special jar to give away, or in her little princess purse to spend.

She mulled over those first five bills for quite a while. Then (making me both proud and a more than a little sheepish) she put $2 in the save can, $2 in her bank, and a dollar in her purse. She's continued dividing her allowance this way every week since.

Now granted, she doesn't need much spending money. But still, giving 40% of your income to charity? I think that deserves a pat on the back.

She's saved up enough money that we're now looking into ways to share it with others, and I thought I'd share what we've found with you.

  • An obvious choice for kids, giving to Toys for Tots means they get to linger in the toy aisle and feel good about giving. We told our daughter that we'd match her donation, so she was able to donate a toy at Christmas and still have money left for giving in January.
  • As a mom of daughters, this one's a personal favorite of mine. According to The Girl Effect, a woman will invest 90% of her income back into her family. They work to invest in girls of developing countries so that those girls will in turn invest in their communities.
  • Not only is donating to Kiva a great way to support small business owners in developing countries, it's also an early lesson in economics. Kids (and their parents) can lend money to entrepreneurs, then watch as business succeed and their loans are paid back.
  • Are you raising a little athlete? Hoops for Hope reaches out to children in Zimbabwe and South Africa through sports, encouraging them to work toward leadership and change.
  • Take your kids over to Kids Caring 4 Kids to meet Kendall, a teen who has raised over $700,000 in the last four years, and let the inspiration roll. Not only does Kendall raise money for kids in Africa affected by AIDS, but she's also trying to build her own "army of activists" by encouraging other kids to get involved.
  • Many kids run a lemonade stand at some point in their childhood. Alexandria Scott's was turned into a $25 million dollar charity in search of a cure for children's cancers. Encourage your kids to start their own small business and turn over the proceeds to Alex's Lemonade Stand.
  • Got a crafty teen or tween? Socks for Soldiers, the Snuggles Project, and Warm Woolies are all groups that ask for their donations in the form of warm, homemade items for both people and pets.
Of course, we all know that charity starts at home. There are plenty of opportunities to give right in your community. Knock a couple of items off your local animal shelter's wish list (and then stick around to play with the animals), donate used toys to an organization that can use them, or -- if your kids are big enough -- get the whole family involved on a Habitat for Humanity project.

Inspired by my daughter's generosity, I've vowed to increase the amount that I give in 2009. What's your favorite kid-friendly charity?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.