Talking to Your Kids About Fundraising (Fundraising Isnâ€™t Just For Adults!)
A radio commercial promoting a non-profit once had a young child announcing why he was a philanthropist. The child spent the entire commercial trying to properly pronounce the word and the commercial ended without the child succeeding. The touching moment was revealed when the child explained the meaning of being a philanthropist from the perfect eyes of a child, even without being able to say it. The point? Your child may not be able to say the word â€œphilanthropist,â€? but they may grasp and hold to the values of one quicker than many adults. This quick guide is meant to help you in teaching your child about caring for their community and sharing what they have.
Step #1: What Is A Philanthropist Anyway? Many people believe that philanthropists are older, well-established citizens with lots of money to give to a charity. However, anyone who gives of their time, talent, resources, or takes action for a cause is a philanthropist â€” even children. Sit down with your child and explain the definition of being a philanthropist. Provide examples of how they or someone in your family has already accomplished acts of a philanthropist. An example of someone giving of their time may be that you recently volunteered as a family; Mom is a nurse and gave of her talent when she volunteered as a nurse; your child offered his resources when he gave his allowance to the church; and the family took action for a cause by participating in the Bike MS Ride.
Make It Fun! Children learn best when they enjoy what they are doing.
Step #2: What Are We Fundraising For? Explain to your child that when they donate money to an organization like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society that they are philanthropists. Your child may easily grasp the concept of a non-profit if you explain that it is essentially a group of philanthropists that joined together for a common cause. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a group of individuals that want to do something about MS now! Educate yourself on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and explain, in age appropriate terms, what multiple sclerosis is. Your child may surprise you with how much they understand! The National MS Society can provide you with resources to help including the â€œWhere the Money Goesâ€? section of the website and a variety of available brochures and books.
Make It a Family Affair! Family bonding teaches teamwork and mutual respect.
Step #3: Set A Goal! Once your child understands what they are fundraising for, discuss with them how much they would like to raise. Goals add excitement to fundraising and give added motivation for your child. Set the goal high enough to be challenging, but don’t set it so high that they can’t reach it. If you set a goal and reach it quickly, set a higher one! Encourage your child to share their goal when asking for donations.
Step #4: What Do I Say? Most adults are nervous about fundraising when they first start, so it should be no surprise that children would be also. Sit down with your child and discuss the proper ways to ask for donations and what to say when approaching someone. Learning good manners and how to interact appropriately with adults will build confidence in your child. • Determine the appropriate audience for your child’s fundraising. Together, make a list of people to approach — family, close friends, neighbors, etc. • W ork with your child on what to say when approaching someone about donating. Your child will be more confident if they understand the what, why and to whom the money goes and are able to articulate that to the listener. Sharing their goal and how close they are to reaching the goal provides additional excitement to the conversation. • S tress good manners and being polite when asking for a donation. If someone can not donate at that time, children may have a hard time understanding and may feel rejected. Address this up front by explaining reasons someone might say no (such as they may not be able to give at that time or may have already donated to another cause). Teach that the appropriate response should be “Thank You — Maybe Next Time”. 4
Step #5: Determine The Best Fundraising Approach There are multiple approaches to fundraising with your child including online, letters, face-to-face, and events. Talk through ideas with your child and determine what approach(es) would fit them best. Allow your child to brainstorm ideas on their own. Remember that whatever your child gets excited about often gets their full attention. With this in mind, make sure that whatever approach(es) they choose is something they are excited about. ONLINE: Assist your child in sending an email announcing their participation, their goal and how they can donate. The National MS Society provides participants with a number of helpful online fundraising tools upon registration in the â€œMy Participant Centerâ€? including a personal webpage with secure online donation capabilities. Sit down at the computer with your child and set up their webpage to assist in requesting donations. LETTERS: When writing a letter with your child, resist the urge to write it for them. The more authentic and heartfelt the letter, the more touching it will be. Make sure to include a way for the reader to respond, either by a self-addressed stamped envelope or by directing them to donate online. FACE-TO-FACE: This type of fundraising is often the most effective way to raise donations â€” especially when it is a child asking. Determine with your child whom to approach in this manner and ensure that they can articulate what they are asking for. Again, resist the urge to do the asking for them. You can certainly step in if needed, but allow your child to steer the conversation.
Make it Educational! The skills they learn in this process will last a lifetime!
EVENTS: Sell Something! Help your child set up a lemonade stand, sell handmade crafts made by your family or purchase Society related items such as orange bracelets to sell. Have a Party! This year, ask everyone to make a donation to the charity instead of bringing a gift to your child’s birthday party. Explain to your child how much money is often spent on gifts from friends and family for their birthday and how much that is in relation to their fundraising goal. Hold a Themed Party! Invite family and friends to a themed dinner party hosted by your child for donations. Allow your child to determine the menu, decorations and do the cooking (supervised, of course!). It will certainly be a night to remember!
Step #6: What Happens Now? One of the most important steps in teaching your child about fundraising comes after the donations are received. Teach your child the importance of saying “Thank You” for what people have given to them. Have your child write and send a short note or drawn picture to everyone that donated, no matter how large or small the gift. Seeing their note or picture hanging in grandma’s kitchen will help them realize how much those simple words mean. 6
DO’S & DON’TS
to talking with your kids about fundraising DO allow your child to do the talking, no matter how young. Resist the urge to speak for them or to write their letters/emails for them. DO view every step of the fundraising process as an educational opportunity for your child. Even beyond the obvious lesson of community responsibility, lessons can include math when counting the donations, English when writing letters and emails, and verbal skills when talking face-to-face. DO view fundraising as an adventure and make it fun! Children will get on board with the process quickly if they are enjoying it. DO model community responsibility in your own life. Children learn by watching others and will be more likely to make it a part of their lives if they see you doing the same. DO incorporate the entire family in the process. If you have multiple children, teach them about teamwork and mutual respect by having them complete each step together. DON’T feel pressured to give all or most of the money yourself. Your child will learn more and gain more confidence in themselves if they are personally responsible for reaching their goal. DON’T allow your children to approach strangers without the company of a parent. DON’T share your child’s personal contact information on fundraising request items that may be given to strangers. DON’T forget to be creative and to have fun!
Giving of yourself to help others is a lesson we all need to learn. Raising community minded children is a big job for any parent, but starting at an early age helps to instill a sense of responsibility that will last a lifetime. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society can assist in this process by providing age-appropriate materials to help your child understand MS and the mission of the National MS Society. Visit our website at www.nationalMSsociety.org/gaa for additional information.
National MS Society – Georgia Chapter 1117 Perimeter Center West, Suite E101 Atlanta, GA 30338 Ph. 678.672.1000 • F 678.672.1015