Teaching Kids to Give Back

Studies show that young people who engage in service do better in school, maintain positive relationships with adults and avoid risky behaviors. These students are also less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to graduate than their peers who do not serve. Boys & Girls Clubs are helping kids across the nation understand that donating a small amount of time can make a big difference. Use these tips to help inspire youth in your life to give back.

1. Talk about giving.
Tell your kids which causes you’re supporting this year and why. Better yet, make the choice together. Or give each child a portion of what you plan to donate this year and allow him or her to choose the charity.

2. Read books about giving.
Try The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen, I Can Make a Difference by Julie and Amanda Sexson or a selection from Learning to Give’s Annotated Bibliography of Children’s Literature.

3. Volunteer together.
Whether serving a meal at a soup kitchen or lending a hand at an animal shelter, volunteering helps kids learn compassion – and it’s a great way for families to spend time together. Check with your child’s school, your religious institution, a local Boys & Girls Club or The Volunteer Family for project ideas.

4. Encourage routine volunteering.
Contributing regularly to an organization they choose can be meaningful, showing kids that they have the power to make a difference. This is especially true for teens. Support them by providing transportation or extra allowance for expenses, if needed.

5. Do something fun, like cooking or an art project.
Even very young children can make cards for senior center residents or help you bake a tasty treat for a neighbor. These are perfect ways to have fun while thinking about others.

6. Tell family stories about philanthropy.
Talk about times when your family has helped someone in need, or times when your family has received help.

7. Acknowledge and celebrate all kinds of giving acts.
Whether your child volunteers, donates allowance, helps a friend or neighbor, or is simply being kind to a sibling, be sure to praise the effort.

8. Be enthusiastic!
Boys & Girls Club kids who are active in community service say they’re inspired by the adults in their lives who give back, too.

9. It’s o.k. to offer incentives.
Especially for young children, food or prizes can help sweeten the deal when you’re asking them to spend time working for a cause.

10. Make philanthropy a family value.
Look for opportunities throughout the year to reinforce the idea that helping others is important. Boys & Girls Club teens who are passionate about community service said it was critical to hear this message repeatedly from the adults in their lives.

Community Organizations

There are many organizations in your own back yard that need volunteer support. Contact organizations that are of interest to your children and family to learn more about their specific needs and volunteer opportunities.

  • Animal shelters
  • Homeless shelters
  • Homebuilding organizations
  • Hospitals
  • Libraries
  • Parks and community gardens
  • Senior centers
  • Youth serving organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs
Service Ideas

  • Make holiday and birthday cards for people in children’s hospitals or senior citizen homes
  • Write letters or create care packages for servicemen and servicewomen
  • Collect toiletries to donate to area shelters
  • Participate in a community clean-up day
  • Organize a school supply drive to help young people in the community start the school year off right
  • Get gifts for a child in need during the holidays instead of for your family
  • Deliver meals to local seniors or shut-ins
  • Clean up area parks and wet lands
  • Rake leaves or shovel snow for an elderly neighbor
  • Volunteer at a community garden
  • Tutor younger children
  • Raise funds to address a local or global concern of interest to your family (ex: support a global environmental organization or your local animal shelter)
  • Start a recycling project that organizes bins for trash, plastic and aluminum
  • Organize a community book drive for youth who have limited access to books