Teaching children to give back to their communities might be one of the most valuable lessons they can learn. Yet, it can be challenging for many parents as they may not know where to start. It can also be difficult to figure out the right age to introduce them to the concept and find appropriate ways to get them involved.
As with any value you want to instil in your children, it’s likely going to take more than one conversation. In fact, it usually takes a series of discussions that evolve over time.
Acts of giving can range from minuscule to large. So while you might be thinking that you need to nurture the next Greta Thunberg, teaching your children how small actions can have a big impact on the world can be just as meaningful. So if you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve got you covered with ideas of how your children can give back as well as ways you can support them.
Fundraising is one of the easiest ways kids can get involved with their communities. It is also a great way to have fun while honing their organisational and leadership skills. Although local regulations might mean that kids are primarily limited to fundraising through school, this doesn’t mean it cannot be a fulfilling experience.
Selling baked goods is a popular choice as it allows kids to enjoy the process of making what they will sell. Other options include selling old books and toys, homemade crafts, or other types of food. If they don’t want to sell a product, they may prefer offering services like gift-wrapping or car washing. Alternatively, they could set up an obstacle course or face painting service and charge a fee for using them.
- book or toy sale
- lemonade stand or cookie stall
- homemade jewellery stall or art sale
- car washing or other fee-based offerings
Within fundraising, there’s sponsorship. This way of giving back is also popular with kids, partly because it gets them involved in challenges and partly because the options are almost endless. Plus, they can do it from the comfort of their homes. Finding an activity that means something to your child is the perfect way to get them to participate. Maybe the bookworm in your house will do a sponsored read, the party animal a danceathon, or the chatterbox a sponsored silence. Almost any of their favourite hobbies can be turned into a sponsorship opportunity to fund their charity of choice.
- sponsored read
- sponsored silence
- sponsored run/row/cycle/swim
Donating can be tricky for children as, after all, most of them aren’t earning money! Yet there are still many ways they can contribute to worthy causes. Financially, they could donate their pocket money or ask family and friends to do so on their behalf instead of giving them presents on special occasions. Beyond cash, kids can donate lots of physical items, including clothes, books, and toys that they no longer need.
- clothes, books and toys
- baby products (e.g. nappies, wipes, bibs)
Volunteering is an effective way for children to be immersed in the causes they are helping. At the same time, the causes benefit from their time and efforts. People of all ages can join in, and the most obvious ways kids can volunteer in Qatar are in pet rescue centres and at beach clean-ups. Older children may be able to volunteer with hospitals, refuges, or food banks. Unfortunately, the pandemic has limited many of these activities, so check with the organisation before going.
- pet rescue charities
- food banks
- women’s/family refuges
If your child has bigger ideas, consider encouraging them to organise an event. This could be at school or with an extra-curricular organisation. With more people at their disposal, the options increase immensely! Many of the ideas above can be scaled up to involve a group of friends, a class, or even the whole school. The cake stall can become a bake sale, and donating clothes can become a used clothes event. They could talk to their teachers about organising a school-wide dress-up day, a talent show, or even a school-branded cookbook. Large scale events are more time consuming to plan and organise, but kids get a lot of enjoyment out of them.
- bake sale or used clothes sale
- karaoke night or talent show
- non-uniform day
- mass sponsorship event
Giving back isn’t just about fundraising—it can also be about raising awareness to bring change in the world. Most schools these days are committed to recycling and have eco-committees. If this isn’t the case with your child’s school, this would be an excellent opportunity for them to suggest it. They usually have student councils that offer children the opportunity to give back to their school and peers through feedback and ideas for improvement. If there is a cause that your child is passionate about, like bullying, they could try organising an anti-bullying group in school. If they are desperate to help victims of catastrophes or climate disasters, they can consider planning food or clothing drives.
- becoming a school representative, e.g. joining the student council
- organising large scale sponsorship or fundraising events
- leadership in extra-curricular groups
- beach clean-ups
You can nurture and support your child’s interest in giving by continuing to involve them in conversations about it. Keep discussing different ideas and plans and help them choose age and interest appropriate opportunities. Your shy child might not want to organise a school talent competition, but if they’re passionate about dogs, then volunteering at a pet shelter might be right up their street. Likewise, your eco-conscious child might mobilise a recycling movement on your compound, and your long-distance runner might do a sponsored run. If your child is globally aware, they might find supporting refugee charities more appealing.
Finally, remind them that change starts at home and that their daily actions count towards changing the world for the better. Reducing everyday waste, acting with integrity, being a behaviour leader among peers, and committing to doing small acts of kindness are all brilliant ways to give back every single day.