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Dad and son donating money to charity

Dec 7, 2021

How to teach kids about giving this holiday season

Socially-conscious kids have the power to make the world a better place. And it can start by teaching kids about giving. While you get ready for the holiday season, talk about generosity — and how your kids can make a difference. 

Generosity is human nature. And it’s linked to happiness.

We know from experience that giving feels good. But did you know scientists study that warm, fuzzy feeling?

Social psychologist Elizabeth Dunn and her colleagues research the science of giving. In one study, researchers gave toddlers a currency they were familiar with — Goldfish crackers. They asked the kids to share their Goldfish with a toy monkey. (Yes, this experiment was both adorable and informative.) 

Behind the scenes, the team coded the kids’ emotional reactions. Results showed that kids were happy when they received the Goldfish, but even happier when they shared some with the monkey. *Heart melts.*

Dr. Dunn also found the “warm glow of giving” follows us into adulthood. In a survey of more than 200,000 adults from across the globe, nearly half the world’s population reported giving at least some money to charity in the last month. In every region, people who gave money were happier than those who didn’t.

Choose your way to give.

The research suggests your kids will experience the joy of giving when they feel a strong connection to the cause and know how their dollars can make a difference.

Ashley Noto, Greenlight’s SVP of Strategy and Global Growth gave us an inside look at how her family gives back: “With all the gifts from friends and family during the holiday, I think it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the joy of giving with my kids,” she said.  “At the beginning of the season, we adopt a family in need. We all contribute earned allowances and participate in buying items for the family. As the season comes to a close, my kids give back — either a toy or a portion of gift money they received — to a charity of their choice.”

Inspired? We are too. There are many different ways kids can give back. Here are some ideas to encourage generosity this season.

  • Time: Volunteer for an organization as a family. We love VolunteerMatch.org because you can search for opportunities by different causes.

  • Clothes: Ask your kids to clean their closets and donate clothes to local organizations. A coat that no longer “sparks joy” for one child may be at the top of another child’s wishlist this year.

  • Toy or food drives: Look out for toy and food drives hosted by schools and local businesses. Feeling competitive? Challenge another family to see who can gather the most donations.

  • Money: Teach your kids to set aside money for charitable giving. It’s a lesson in giving and budgeting.

Wondering how you can teach your kids more about charitable giving? Play along with our Kahoot!

How to give with Greenlight.

Illustration of charity donation

We’re here to help you raise the next generation of givers. As they receive money from friends or loved ones over the holidays, encourage your kids to put some into their Giving account for an end-of-year donation to their favorite charity. Don’t have one yet? We’ve got you covered:

  1. Navigate to the bottom of your child’s dashboard to find the “Give with Greenlight” module.

  2. Ask your kids what causes they want to support. Animals? Health? Human rights? Use the Greenlight app to choose a category.

  3. They’ll be taken outside the app to Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that rates and evaluates charities. Read more about Charity Navigator’s rating system here.

  4. Kids will add their donation to the “Giving Basket” and use their Greenlight card at checkout to pull funds from their Giving account. 

(Note: If there are insufficient funds in their Giving account, the donation will pull from Spend Anywhere.)

Remind your kids about the power of the collective. In 2020, individual giving totaled an estimated $471.44 billion (!!!!). Even the smallest donation adds up to build a larger community of givers — and together we can make a difference.

Celebrate the joy of giving.

Your kids are already doing big things. Praise them for contributing to causes larger than themselves to reward their generosity. You can also find ways to inspire giving in regular conversations — whether it’s a classmate in need or a school-sponsored volunteer event.

This holiday season, we encourage you to share the gift of giving with your kids — and help them create generous habits that will last a lifetime.

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