How to Make Holiday Giving a Family Tradition

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Here in the midst of the holidays, many people are focused on giving gifts to family members and friends. The season of giving is also a good time to teach children about the importance of philanthropy by making giving a family affair.

Philanthropy, or donating money and time to charities, is an excellent way to instill important values in your kids, like compassion and generosity. Establishing a tradition of family giving can also help bring your family closer together. According to a study conducted by Fidelity Charitable, 81 percent of people who grew up with strong giving traditions say that their core family is “very close.” 

Start a New Tradition

Here are five tips to keep in mind as you start a new family holiday giving tradition:

  1. Identify a charity you’d like to support. Online charity evaluators like charitynavigator.org can help you find charities you’d like to support. This website lists several charity categories, from homeless and family services to arts and humanities. Do the research together with your family as you browse through different types of charitable organizations. 

Also help your kids decide which causes mean the most to them and why their giving is important. The “why” of this tradition is just as important as the money you donate. Your kids should understand the purpose of giving and how their efforts can positively impact others in need.

  1. Set giving goals. Sit down together and assess how much money each family member wants to give not only during the holidays, but throughout the year. Many religious traditions suggest donating 10 percent of gross income to charity. If your budget is a bit tighter than this, you could start off a little lower — for example, by donating four percent of income, which is right around the national average for giving.

If your younger kids don’t have an income but still want to participate in family giving, consider giving them a weekly allowance. Encourage them to set aside a percentage of their “earnings” in a charity-designated envelope or jar. When the giving day arrives, your kids may appreciate the value of setting aside some of their income to help a cause they care about.

  1. Motivate and follow up. Check in periodically with each family member to see how they’re doing with their giving goals. For example, you could have a quarterly family dinner where your kids can share their progress or ask for help. You can also assess how near or far your family is from meeting your overall giving goal.

To encourage your kids, consider matching their donations. For example, if your child has raised $50, match it with $25 of your own. Adding some “matched” money to your childrens’ donations will encourage them and help make giving more of a family affair.

  1. Donate your time as well as your money. Giving money is important, but so is giving time. According to Fidelity Charitable research, children who volunteer with their families are 22 percent more likely to continue volunteering when they grow up.

By helping others in the community, your children will make long-lasting human connections and memories. Combining financial giving with volunteering may also motivate your kids to continue supporting their chosen charity year after year.

  1. Reflect and plan ahead. Making giving a family tradition during the holidays will help teach your kids important lessons about the value of philanthropy. After the holidays are over, ask your kids to reflect on what they learned about giving. Sit down together early in the new year to discuss the results and set a goal for next year’s holiday giving. 

For example, decide if your family wants to continue making donations to the same charity or prefers to choose a new one. And encourage your kids to share their positive philanthropy experiences with their friends — maybe other families will adopt a giving tradition as well. 

Make It an Ongoing Tradition

After your discussion, make any necessary changes to your giving strategy that will help streamline and improve the process. Most importantly, commit to making this a tradition that your family continues each and every year.


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