For more than 125 years, Akron Children’s Hospital has seen first-hand the benefits of those who give to our hospital. From sharing a smile or a stuffed animal with a child before surgery to building a space that brings innovative care to more children, we know gifts come in all shapes and sizes. We also recognize that the foundation of giving – or why someone gives – often starts at a young age and grows over time.
“We know kids are natural learners so when they see their caregivers help others, they often want to do the same,” said Shelly Brown, executive director of the Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation. “In fact, I’ve had major donors say to me, ‘I remember how it felt when my family supported others and it’s why I want to give.’ It’s this connection or positive feeling that comes from helping others that can lead to a legacy of giving.”
With more than 80% of philanthropic gifts coming from individuals and families, letting kids be a part of the discussion and experience can be key to a lifetime of giving.
Start the conversation
Talking with kids early and often about the importance of helping others and educating them about the various ways to contribute to people and causes is an important first step. It gets kids thinking about what’s important to them or to your family and how they can make a difference. Conversations don’t need to be a one-time, serious talk. They can happen while playing or eating dinner or by showing them through your actions.
Do it together
Give kids an opportunity to feel personally vested in a cause by letting them decide which groups to support and how to support them. If you volunteer, let your child shadow you or help. If you’re raising money, let them help you come up with ideas of who to ask or how to raise more. If you’re sending in a monetary donation, show them on paper how much things cost so they understand why you’re giving and how it will be used.
Encourage a tradition of giving
As kids get older and busier, talk with them about new and different ways to give. Grade-schoolers may want to go from collecting loose change to earning or donating their own funds whereas older teens and young adults may transition to giving monthly contributions, one-time donations or attending events to support causes they believe in.