By Susan Barton
Teaching your kids about giving back is key to raising socially conscious children. Volunteering teaches empathy and helps children identify need in their community and shows them how even small actions and a little kindness can have a lasting positive impact.
The good thing is that there’s no right amount of time you need to donate and no gesture that is too small – spending just a few minutes of your time to help someone in need can be of equal value to a regular commitment to a charity. Volunteering time, lending your talents, making monetary donations, or supplying direct goods are all ways to engage your children in giving back.
When looking for ways to help those in need, there are some key things to consider – make it relevant, enjoy what you do, keep it simple and do it together. If you can get the formula right, not only will giving back make you feel great, but it will also become something you want to do regularly.
Find something that fits
To get the most out of your experience and form a lasting memory with your children, choose a cause that fits with your family values, interests, and passions. Charitable giving feels good when you understand the impact of your actions and when you believe in the cause you’re supporting. Be sure to talk to your children and explain how their actions will make a difference to the charity you have selected.
Make it fun
Giving should feel good and bring you joy. Find an activity that you will enjoy doing together. Whether it’s raising sponsorship money by accepting a physical challenge, learning a tik tok dance, hosting a coffee morning for friends or organising an art show, raising money through an activity or event that you have a passion for will help you get the most out of giving back.
Keep it simple
If organising events or raising money makes you feel overwhelmed, remember that giving back can be as simple as offering to walk a friend’s dog once a week, picking up groceries for someone while you’re already out at the shops, or pulling a neighbor’s rubbish bins off the street. Small gestures are just as important as big gestures and will help you grow a community.
Do it together
Whether you’re walking the neighborhood stuffing letter boxes for a charity or creating holiday cards and wrapping gifts for families in need, doing it together can open up conversations with your family. Donating your time is as much about doing something for someone in need as it is about spending time together.
Give a feel-good, do-good gift
If you don’t have time to volunteer, you can always buy a gift that gives back for you. Make a donation or buy a gift on behalf of a loved one. Monthly memberships can provide organisations with much needed funds throughout the year. For example, through the Lighthouse Foundation, from just $2 a month you can nominate a loved one to be a ‘Lighthouse Keeper’ and support the Lighthouse Foundation, an organisation that provides homes and therapeutic care for homeless young people and children.
Need more ideas? Ask the experts
Contact your local non-profit organisations and ask how you can help. If you know who you’d like to give your time or money to but don’t know how, reaching out directly to your charity of choice is the best option.
Around the holidays there are all sorts of ways that organisations may need your support:
- Gift a boxed toy or new clothes to a wishing tree
- Fill a hamper for your local food bank
- Host a small event to raise funds
- Make items that you can sell – holiday cards, art works, jewellery, potted plants – with the proceeds going to charity
- Volunteer to supply gift wrapping and wrap gifts
- Donate good quality unwanted items to charity
- Stuff your free street library with books
Susan Barton AM is the founder of Lighthouse Foundation which provides a safe home and community for homeless kids to belong, heal and thrive.