The ‘Elf on the Shelf’ was put away months ago, and donation drives are far and few between, so how do we teach our kids about the importance of giving? It’s natural to teach our children manners, to say please and thank you, and to be courteous and respectful of others. Those lessons are not learned overnight, but rather instilled at a young age and repeatedly ingrained as our kids grow into adults. It’s important then, to infuse lessons of service, contribution and philanthropy into the hearts and minds of our future leaders.
We can start by teaching our children about the act of giving, not to seek material items, but rather give out of gratitude and grace.
The Lessons of Giving
Creating future philanthropists is simpler than it seems. By being an example for your children, you can have a great impact on their future giving habits. If your children see you taking time out of your day to help others, it becomes a normal habit and an expectation they set for themselves. Small acts of kindness, such as asking them to pick out a few toys they no longer play with to give to a less fortunate child or offering to get the mail for a elderly neighbor who may have trouble getting around are simple ways to teach selfless behavior.
When you do things like hold the door open for a stranger, give a quarter to the woman in the grocery line in front of you who is frantically searching in her coin purse or just pick up litter while you’re at the park, you are showing your children that you can make the world a slightly better place with the smallest gesture and best intentions.
You are showing them that giving isn’t just during Christmas, it is a daily practice we should all participate in any way we can.
When children can see what their giving can do, it leaves a lasting effect. Seeing vegetables grow in a community garden that they’ve planted, or a smile on the face of another child, when getting a gift they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten; those moments are the ones to instill the desire to give in children.
Participating in events like the upcoming 3rd Annual Big Give S.A., is a great way to show children how their contributions, no matter how small can make a huge difference. The Big Give S.A. donation match shows children that even a small donation can become a lot and what they contribute to matters.
This year, the Big Give S.A. will take place on May 3. The purpose of this 24-hour event is to increase the public’s awareness of the impact of local nonprofits. It also connects donors with their local nonprofits, and builds a relationship where the donor can continue to give back. The Big Give S.A. was created to make donating fun and accessible.
Donors make their gifts at thebiggivesa.org, which offers searchable profiles of all the participating nonprofits. All donations must be made through the website during the 24-hour period.
“Last year we had over 800 nonprofits participating in this community-wide event. It was exciting to see donations pour in from not only South Texas but across the country”, said Scott McAninch, Executive Director of The Nonprofit Council. “This year, our goal is to have 1,000 nonprofits take part”.
The Big Give S.A. includes Bexar County and 13 counties in South Texas, and is led by the Nonprofit Council and the San Antonio Area Foundation. These organizations work with private foundations, corporations, media partners, and the broader community to help The Big Give S.A. meet three main goals.
These goals are to move the San Antonio community forward by encouraging a collective impact of raising money, help our communities progress forward by investing strategically in Bexar and surrounding county nonprofits, and encourage giving by leveraging the giving with matched funds and prize incentives.
Last year the event generated an impressive $4.3 million in 24 hours. For 2016, the goal is to raise $6 million. The Big Give S.A. is part of the national day of giving called Give Local America. More than 80 communities across the country are coming together to give big on May 3. The Big Give S.A. is just one more way to show the next generation what it means to give.
Rebecca Asher is a freelance writer, author and mommy of two. Her essay, Take a Breath is published in the Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It anthology by Elizabeth Gilbert, which debuts March 29, 2016.