When Your Child Wants to Help at Times of Need
In 1972, after the first Easter Seals telethon, my sister and I noticed our dad had spray-painted something in the driveway leaving behind a patch of metallic gold gravel. In our quest to make money for Easter Seals, we gathered up the gravel, set up a roadside stand and attempted to sell the gravel as “fool’s gold”. Unfortunately, our creativity did not make up for our lack of business sense and our attempt was unsuccessful.
Due to the many diverse ways we now receive news, kids today are even more aware of world events and their traumatic effect on other people. Children and young adults often want to know what they can do for others in times of great tragedy. This can be a teachable moment for parents and educators when a child states, “I want to help.” Children often have their own ideas on how they want to help. Depending on the situation, fundraising ideas for kids may involve giving of their time, or some of their own belongings or earning money for a cause.
Questions to ask when a child wants to help in a time of need:
Ask the child how they got their idea and have them show you the news item or video clip.
Express to them that you can see why they want to help.
Ask what they think would be the most effective ways to help.
Ask how they and their family might contribute.
This is an opportunity to teach a child goal setting and basic business skills. Teach children not only how to raise money, but also how to donate to a worthy charity by doing a little research so they maximize cost effectiveness. Show them how to look up a charity’s rating on Charity Navigator or other trustworthy sites. Then, how they can make a cash donation to an organization with a proven record of getting appropriate help to the people in as efficient a manner as possible.
Without discouraging empathy, children can be made aware that some ways of helping are more effective than others. For example, many of us heard about the massive piles of clothing that were burned in Haiti due to a lack of a distribution system. Or hundreds of thousands of dollars spent getting bottled water to countries when what they needed was a water purifier for 0.1% of the cost. In the book, Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference, author William MacAskill explains how we can avoid accidentally causing harm, and succeed in having the greatest positive impact possible through our giving. In evaluating charities, he recommends: look at what they do, their cost effectiveness, the robustness of evidence, their implementation, and see if there is room for more funding. This is a good business lesson for young adults.
My sister and me? We eventually figured out how to earn money by selling vegetables from our grandparents’ farm. And while I’d like to say we used that money for good, we actually used it to buy record albums. Fortunately, we eventually found our way towards charitable giving. With your contribution toward discussion and guidance, your child will not only demonstrate heart for his fellow man but also learn how to give with effectiveness.
fundraising ideas for kids