The daily, crazy-busy routine: Kids to school. Hurry to Work. Dash back for activities. And then usually spend far too much on groceries that get pushed around the dinner plate. With all the running around, it’s sometimes hard to be grateful for what we have. Even harder to think about what others don’t have.
But as the dog gets another under-the-table helping of brussel sprouts from Johnny, maybe that could serve as an opener for introducing the idea of giving. Not to the dog, of course. And not by spouting the mantra of our parents, “Don’t you know there are kids starving on the other side of the world!?!”
So how to suggest the idea without being didactic, parental, boring…
Make the gifting of unwanted veggies to Fido an analogy for being charitable. “K, I do actually see you giving treats to the dog. I’m ok with that. Shows how generous you are. That’s awesome.”
Despite their interest, my kids are still labeled “too young” to work at the soup kitchen, the food bank, the homeless shelter – even with me by their side. …Frustrating! Especially because in today’s universe of warp-speed, uber-visual interaction, our kids just aren’t going to gain understanding of the extreme needs still existent in our world unless they are engaged in a highly active way.
Giving will only be realized as “providing” or “gifting” when they themselves make a sacrifice – like time and energy, or the earnings made from hard work. But that old busy schedule thing seems always to get in the way…
That’s why I loved getting my kids hooked on SeeYourImpact. It’s super-accessible – highly engaging, interactive, visually pleasing – gets them focused quickly (intuitively!) on the idea that “Giving” in even really small amounts can make tremendous change in real lives. Best part is, they get the story and photo for EVERY gift they make.
Kids just get hooked on the idea of instant impact – in the same way texting has become addictive, SeeYourImpact makes being charity-minded fast, effortless and fun. The concept and the process are totally straightforward – in other words, kid friendly.
Even the most cynical teen (or jaded parent) can be impressed by the fact that fully 100% of your donation goes directly to the need on the ground. It’s easy to show your kids that money they earn from an afternoon raking the leaves or an evening of babysitting, can be donated to make an enormous positive influence on someone else’s life – maybe even save that life.
What’s awesome is that your child can choose exactly what geography or demographic or type of cause they want to target. Our family is sensitive to hunger issues, so we gifted vitamins to children in Sierra Leone. But you can choose just about anything – clean water for a village in Cambodia, education for girls in Rwanda, cataract surgeries for people in India, antibiotics for children in Kenya. You choose the region, need, or population.
We’re turning “charity” – a kind of nebulous idea – into reality. When they give through SeeYourImpact, our kids can create their own profile page. Each donation they make adds another Impact Story to their page – it’s a way for them to express (and promote) the causes that are near and dear to them, like they do on Facebook.
Works like this – about 2 weeks after gifting, we get an email detailing how their money changed a life, about the actual individuals reached and what their reaction was – with a photo! Our kids get to actually see the person whose life they’ve improved. Their personal Impact Stories can even be shared via email or on Facebook and MySpace, so their friends will see the change they are creating. Who knows – maybe their friends will want to follow the leader…
So, then, back to the dinner table conversation. How do you go from “I’m psyched you’re so generous,” to planting the idea of turning that generosity in another direction? Lead by example, right? Make a small donation – say $10 for a life-saving malaria net. Then you can show the pix and the story to Johnny while a second handful goes under the table. “Wanna see an amazing way to be generous – look what I did the other day. Totally cool. Way beats spoiling the dog.”
I am so glad that finally an organization is making “giving” so accessible, fun and I think, a positive addiction, for kids. When they see for themselves the real joy of creating positive change, they’ll be hooked.
It’s, like, wikkid exciting… even for FB addicts.