10 Creative Ways to Raise Kids Who Give That Shapes Their Character

Raise kids who give and offer them a valuable gift for a fulfilled and enriched life.

Instilling generosity and a spirit of giving in our children is one of the most meaningful gifts we can provide as parents. With so much focus in today’s world on materialism, individualism and self-interest, nurturing values of compassion, service and community provides a moral compass for our kids. 

As parents, our example shows children what really matters. By modeling generosity, allowing kids to donate their own money, applauding acts of kindness, and providing engaging giving opportunities, generosity becomes second nature to them. Helping others starts to bring greater fulfillment than possessions.

Here are impactful ways to foster giving hearts and helping hands in our kids.

10 Creative Ways to Raise Kids Who Give

1. Model Generosity Yourself

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Since children learn best by observation, our own day-to-day actions as parents have tremendous influence. When you make generosity and giving a regular habit, your kids are much more likely to absorb these virtues.  

Ways to model generosity include:

Donating money to causes you care about and allowing your children to witness this. Explain why you chose to support certain charities like Children’s Aid & Family Services or FAMILYConnections, both of whom are supported by the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, which aid local families in need.

Volunteering your time for organizations like Family Service League and having your kids participate too. This demonstrates selfless service in action.

– Going out of your way to help neighbors, friends and strangers in need. Let your children know about it and praise acts of kindness.

– Speaking positively about the importance of compassion and community, not just material wealth.

– Buying gifts for charitable gift drives that your children can help pick out. 

Avoiding excessive focus on possessions, status and getting ahead of others.

Kids are always observing our real priorities. By making generosity an obvious one in your daily life, children will see it as a core value, not just a lecture.

2. Allow Them to Give Their Own Money

As soon as your children start earning money from an allowance, gifts or jobs, encourage them to use a portion to benefit others. 

Even small donations can instill big giving habits over time. Ways to facilitate kids donating their own funds:

– Have them allocate a percentage of any money received to give away before their own spending. This builds in generosity as a habit.

– Help them pick a cause, charity or person in need to regularly support. Let them connect directly to how their funds help others.

– Encourage them to save up for bigger donation goals for organizations like Youth Consultation Service or Mental Health Association in New Jersey, just two of the eleven agencies supported by the Greater Newark Holiday Fund. 

– Have them research and select gifts for toy and goods drives that their donation money will buy.

– Allow them to choose occasional small donations like dropping change in a charity box or volunteering to pay for a stranger’s coffee as a “give forward” act.

Giving from their own pocket, no matter how small the amount, helps children feel invested in generosity and compassion as personal values.

3. Point Out Acts of Kindness

As you go about your daily life, try to regularly point out examples of other people demonstrating generosity, sacrifice and giving. This raises awareness of these virtues and positively reinforces them.

You can highlight acts of kindness in a variety of ways:

– When you observe someone going out of their way to help another person in public, point this out to your child as a real-life example of compassion. 

Read books and watch movies that depict characters displaying generosity and discuss the motives and impact.

Share news stories about donations and volunteers helping communities in need. Check out (and share!) updates and newsletters from some of our partner agencies, like Family Service Bureau of Newark

– Praise your child’s kind behaviors. Thank them for actions like including others or sharing their toys.

Drawing attention to giving acts, both big and small, helps shape your child’s perception. Generosity becomes something to aspire to, not just lecture about.

4. Encourage Philanthropy Projects

Provide hands-on opportunities for your children to actively participate in philanthropy projects supporting causes they care about. Experiencing generosity in action can light a lifelong passion for helping others.  

Ideas for engaging in charity projects:

– Together, pick a cause important to your child like hunger, poverty or sustainability. Research organizations, like those supported by the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, that address your chosen issue.

– Brainstorm ways your child can fundraise or volunteer to help. Bake sales, car washes, donation drives and more let kids see giving in action. 

Create care packages, artwork, cards or other handmade items that charities can distribute to people in need. 

– Have your child organize a small event to raise awareness for a cause like a toy drive, food pantry donation collection or recycling campaign. 

– Regularly volunteer together as a family with charities addressing social issues, serving meals, visiting seniors, etc.

– Encourage older kids to suggest and lead their own philanthropy projects with guidance.

Engaging your child’s interests and passions through active charity participation makes generosity personal and inspiring.

5. Teach Compassion for Others 

Some key traits that drive giving are empathy, understanding and compassion. Nurturing these qualities in children is foundational to raising kids with a generosity mindset. 

Ways to cultivate compassion:

Discuss challenges others face and how small acts of kindness from us can make a difference. Local agencies like the Urban League of Essex County assist families struggling with poverty, homelessness and other issues.

Read books and watch age-appropriate films about people from different walks of life. Prompt kids to think about how they would feel in those situations. 

– When your child shares a problem they are facing, ask how they think their friends or others would feel in that same situation. 

Role-play exercises like having each family member speak from another’s perspective. How would a child with no toys feel on Christmas morning?

– Praise your child when you observe him/her demonstrating true compassion for others’ needs and feelings.

Avoid judgment of those facing hard times. Be positive about differences and others’ inherent worth.

Expanding your child’s capacity for empathy and walking in someone else’s shoes nurtures generosity that comes from the heart, not obligation.

Explore books about generosity: 10 Books to Read as a Family to Inspire a Generous Spirit

6. Let Them See You Donate

Don’t just discreetly give to charity without your kids’ knowledge. Let them observe you donating money, goods and time to causes. Ask them to participate in the process with you.  

Seeing generosity in action teaches volumes:

– Explain why you chose to support a certain charity like Catholic Charities of Newark or any of the other Greater Newark Holiday Fund partner agencies. Share who the donation will benefit.

– Let younger kids assist by drawing pictures or picking items from the grocery store that you can donate to a local food pantry. 

Take your child with you when you drop off donated goods so they can experience first-hand the impact even a small contribution makes.

– Talk through your decision-making when faced with a request for charity. How do you decide what and when to give?

– If you volunteer with an organization, discuss the experience together afterward. What did you do? How did it feel? What did it accomplish?

– Share with your child donation receipts and year-end charitable tax statements as examples of real-world giving.

Making generosity visible, instead of discrete good deeds, shows children their parents’ values and why giving matters.

7. Encourage Random Acts of Kindness

Challenge children to engage in “stealth good deeds” by performing small random acts of kindness without expectation of praise or reward. This boosts awareness of how generosity can become second nature.

Fun, under-the-radar giving ideas:

Provide coins for your child to leave in random vending or arcade machines for the next person.

– Have them pay for a stranger’s coffee, meal or book purchase anonymously at a restaurant or store. 

– Let them hand out granola bars, gift cards or other small treats to passersby with a kind note.

– Encourage them to do unassigned household chores and good deeds without fanfare like making someone’s bed, tidying up, feeding pets, etc. 

– Suggest they offer sincere compliments to classmates, servers, cashiers and others they interact with just to brighten someone’s day.

These small acts of generosity require little planning but have a big impact. They show children how easy it is to create ripples of kindness.

8. Volunteer as a Family

Seek out opportunities for your family to volunteer together regularly with organizations addressing social causes. Hand-on service cements giving as a core family value.

Possible volunteering ideas:

Sign up as a family with a charity like Jewish Family Service of Metro West to serve meals, visit seniors, deliver goods or other needed tasks. 

– Designate one weekend or evening a month as your regular family volunteer time. Mark it on the calendar to set the expectation.

– Have each child take turns picking a volunteering activity they want the family to do that month like serving at an animal shelter, picking up trash, etc.

Help out elderly neighbors or other community members in need with yard work, errands, house tasks, rides, etc. 

– Organize a neighborhood event like a donated goods drive, park cleanup or card writing campaign that your family spearheads and invites others to join.

Take your children with you when you volunteer for a cause and discuss the experience together.

Making service and sacrifice a fun family norm trains kids to see generosity as a source of joy.

9. Inspire with Uplifting Quotes

Share inspiring quotes, stories and role model examples that speak to ideals of compassion, sacrifice and giving. Discuss with your children how these values change lives.

– Read classic quotes from activists like Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, and Cesar Chavez and discuss their meaning.

Share stories of Mother Teresa, Paul Newman, John Wooden and athletes engaged in service. Talk about why they chose to give back. 

Watch TED talks or films about social innovators and community heroes.

– Discuss examples of everyday heroes in your community, family friends or even grandparents/ancestors who led lives of quiet generosity. 

– Check out the Holiday Fund on Instagram and Facebook and discover thoughtful quotes that inspire and motivate.

These discussions spark critical thinking on generosity as a virtue that leads to meaning and purpose.

10. Make Generosity Fun

Show children that compassion feels good and giving can be fun. Blend hands-on service with creativity and play.

Some ideas to make generosity fun:

– Frame fundraisers as exciting social events. Let kids organize bake sales, talent shows, read-a-thons and more to benefit a cause.

– Add games and art projects to charity drives. Have children decorate boxes and bags for food and goods collections.

– Encourage them to assemble special care packages, holiday cards or artwork gifts that charities like Newark Day Center or Nutley Family Agency, both Greater Newark Holiday Fund partners, can distribute.

– When donating goods, let your child pick out toys, books or other items they think other kids would enjoy receiving. 

– Praise every act of generosity, no matter how small. Celebrate volunteering with a special family meal or treat.


Giving should feel fulfilling, not forced. Make it rewarding.

The spirit of generosity takes root when introduced early through modeling, engaging projects and consistent value reinforcement. By inspiring our kids to embrace compassion and service, we provide a moral foundation that will guide them for life. Our children’s capacity to change the world starts with how we raise them.

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