4 min read
19 August 2022

From Our Experts: How to Teach Your Child to Give Back to Their Community

Jennifer Mayville, Marketing & Communications Manager

It's a parent's responsibility to teach their children lessons that would help them navigate the world. As parents teach their kids the value and benefits of giving their time, effort or money to those who need it, these lessons can positively shape a child's worldview and personality from a young age. Encouraging philanthropic behaviour can help a child be more empathetic and also can help with their self-confidence.

We asked Teresa Vasilopoulos, the Executive Director of The WoodGreen Foundation, author of the new children's book What Can You Do with Just One Dollar? and a fundraising pro with 25 years of experience, to give us some advice on how to teach your kids to give back. Here are some of her top tips!

Teresa Vasilopolous with her first children's book 'What Can You Do With Just One Dollar'

Teach kids to give back early

Kids are like sponges when they are young. They absorb so much of the information you teach them, which unconsciously becomes part of who they are. By introducing kids to helping others early, empathy and giving can be traits of who they become. It also helps if you lead by example, showing your child your philanthropic efforts. Children’s parents are their first role models, so lead by example, and they will be sure to follow!

Multi-generation mixed race family spending time outside together, all wearing blue volunteer t shirts and protective gloves, collecting garbage, standing in a row, embracing each other, holding a volunteer sign, on a sunny day

Explain why it’s important to give

Explaining giving to the less fortunate may seem like too much of a dark topic for kids. However, instead of focusing on the negative parts of the situation, you can show how their efforts can help change a life. You can also encourage them to be the change they want to see by donating their time and efforts to things or causes that they show interest in.

Delivery during quarantine. Box with merchandise, goods and food. Contactless delivery. Assistance concept at quarantine time because of coronavirus infection Covid-19.

Show there are many ways to give back

For some, giving or philanthropy is synonymous with money, but that isn't always the case. A child can share many things aside from money. For example:

  • Volunteering their time
  • Donating some belongings
  • Raising awareness about a particular cause
  • Bake sales
  • Lemonade stands
  • Collecting non-perishables and donating them to a food bank

There are all kinds of things children can do. Teresa suggests simple activities like painting rocks or baking cookies to sell, and the children should tell their customers where the money is going. This way, they can develop their reasons why they want to give back. Your kids could also become passionate about causes that may even lead to a future career!

A young boy selling plants. An entrepreneur in business.

Show them that they have the power to change the world

Some kids believe that without a substantial amount of money to donate, there’s no point in them participating in philanthropic efforts. However, it's important to remind them that everyone has the power to change the world, whether in their community or on a global scale. Emphasize that the goal in giving back isn’t to solve the world’s problems instantly but to pay it forward and make someone else’s life or a situation a little easier.

There is more to giving than making a change in the world, and there are benefits to the child. Helping others makes people feel great; kids can get a bit of a self-boost or gain self-confidence. It helps kids be more empathetic as individuals. They will look at the world differently when they start thinking about others and others' needs rather than themselves. Kids (and parents) will get back more than they give, even if it is not a big project. Find something that works for your child, start small, and they will reap the benefits over time!

Male volunteer holding donation box with old toys

If you are looking for an excellent way to start, pick up a copy of What Can You Do with Just One Dollar? and share it with your kids to inspire them to give back. All proceeds from the book go to support WoodGreen!


More Blogs

Caring for Toronto’s children fulfills one woman’s lifelong dream

Can the people you work with learn a completely new skill from one day to the next? Jocel's do. It's the best part of her job with children!


Running for a Toronto where all can thrive

Some people only run to things or from things. This fall Bridget King is running for something, and you can join her!


Ask Our Experts: Top Tips on Budgeting During Inflation

Is inflation hurting your wallet? Here are some tips on how to budget through rising costs and find financial stability!


What drives someone to support WoodGreen? One donor’s story

If you want to give back to your community but also want to fund real change, how do you decide where to give? One donor explains his choice.


WoodGreen gives family in crisis a home and a future

Panicked, Lia stared at the eviction notice. Mid-pandemic she now had to find a home for her and four growing kids. She called WoodGreen.