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The Holiday Charity – A Lesson (And Game) On Giving

935756569_18aac96892_m Submitted by Danny Grubb, Seattle, WA

A lot of families make it a point to give to charities every year.  The holidays are a perfect time to go through this process.  Children sometimes hear about people who are less fortunate than they are, but don’t know what they can do to help.  Making charitable giving a family affair and doing the necessary research can give everyone a new view of the world.  Here are some ways to get your children engaged. 

Let The Kids Help in Choosing Charities

Work with your family throughout the year to talk about “What charities are we considering this year?”  Throughout the year your family will no doubt hear of causes that interest them.  If they hadn’t acted on that interest before, the holiday charity can be their excuse.  When doing your due diligence on a potential charity make sure that you are able to locate the following information either on the charity’s website or by having the charity send you copies in the mail:

  1. Literature on what specifically the Charity does.
  2. The Charity’s financial statements to ensure that they use most of their money on actually doing charitable work.
  3. A copy of the charity’s IRS form 990, which it submits to keep its exempt status.

Finally, do an internet search with the charity’s name and the word “Scam” in the string.  This should provide you with any links which claim that the charity is not doing what it is supposed to.  Go over as much of this information with your kids as you think they are willing to hear about.  When your kids are younger, sticking to children’s charities can help keep their interest.  As your kids get older, they may be doing this due diligence by themselves and coming to you with ideas.  All of this effort throughout the year should end with a short list of 5 to 10 charities which warrant your attention on the big day.

Funding a Giving Budget

If your kids receive allowance throughout the year you can give them a choice to hold some of it back for the holiday charities (this will be a good introduction to payroll deductions).  Or they can save up their own allowance to give to the charity.  You can tell them that for every dollar they contribute you will match x dollars.  This will give them an incentive to make a good effort. 

Playing the Game

This can be the most fun part of the whole process.  I have heard of some families doing Monopoly® tournaments or poker tournaments for the right to choose the top charity.  Choose your family’s favorite game and turn it into a competition.  Whoever wins the tournament will get to choose the charity that gets the top prize.  Of course no charity on your short list should go away empty handed.  Here is an example of how things might work out.

5 charities on the short list

$200 total budget

$20 minimum donation

RESULT: The winning charity gets $120 and the four runners up get $20.

It may seem like quite a bit of effort to go through just to give to a charity.  Going through this process from beginning to end will teach your kids a lot of lessons about selflessness, compassion and responsibility.  Of course the fact that it will provide some entertainment during the holidays isn’t bad either.  The charities you give to will no doubt send you thank you letters which always make good refrigerator fodder. 

What will you do this holiday season to teach your kids about the importance of giving?

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