How to Celebrate #GivingTuesday With Your Family


#givingtuesdayToday is #GivingTuesday, the day we emerge from the shopping frenzy that began right after we shoved that last piece of pumpkin pie into our mouths (or, if we’re being honest, before dinner even started) and celebrate generosity.

Kicking off the charitable season, #GivingTuesday is a global day of helping others and giving back. On this day, people give in myriad ways, which is the beauty of the movement: some give money to charities or nonprofits that are meaningful to them; others give their time to local organizations; and some give small acts of kindness, like buying a cup of coffee for a stranger. However and whatever you give, you’re making the world a better and kinder place.   

With the winter holidays—rife with materialistic wants—rapidly approaching, #GivingTuesday is the perfect opportunity to cultivate empathy and show your children that giving is more important (and more fulfilling) than receiving.

Here are some ideas for including your kids in today’s celebration of generosity.

Give Time

  • Volunteer at a local organization (such as a Food Bank, Meals On Wheels, or GLIDE Memorial Church) with your family. This type of direct service allows young people to see the impact of their giving firsthand. (Be sure to check which ages are allowed to volunteer before signing up.)
  • Organize a toy drive or drop off a toy at any SF Fire Station

If you are going to organize a drive, have your kids help by researching where to donate the toys, making posters, and dropping the toys off at the selected location.

If you are going to drop one toy off at a San Francisco fire station, have your kids pick out the toy to donate and explain that it will be given to a child who might not otherwise receive presents over the holidays.

Give Money

  • Introduce your kids to philanthropic giving by donating money to a charity or nonprofit that’s meaningful to your family.
  • Involve your children in every step of the process: 

Brainstorm issues or causes that are important to your family.

Once you’ve picked a focus, research organizations that are doing quality work in that arena.

If your children are young, do the research ahead of time, pick a few organizations that look good to you, and then show them to your kids, talking through each one. Make the final decision together as a family.

For older children / teens, have them do the research and pick three organizations that they’d like to support. Then make the final decision together as a family.

If possible, have your children contribute any amount to the donation.

Discuss the impact of your donation: how will the organization use the money?

Introduce your children to peer-to-peer fundraising by creating a Facebook Fundraiser for a chosen organization. Have your children help as you set a goal, select pictures, and decide what to say in the fundraiser.  

Give Acts of Kindness

  • A small act of kindness has the power to make a person’s day much brighter. Brainstorm small acts of kindness with your kids and then decide when you’re going to do them. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

Give flowers to a friend, family member, teacher, doctor, or other important person in your family’s life.

Make a drawing, or a few drawings, and drop them off at a local senior center. (When you’re dropping them off, let the front desk know that they’re for anyone in need of cheer.)

Bring toys to the park to share with other children.

Make cookies for your neighbors.

Give compliments to people throughout the day.

Let us know what you’re doing for #GivingTuesday in the comments!


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Rebecca grew up in New York City and went to Colorado College, where she majored in English. After another quick stint in NYC, she moved to San Francisco, where she's been for the past 11 years. Rebecca was an elementary and middle school teacher for a decade, and then worked in educational publishing, where she helped to create a digital K-12 curriculum. Alongside teaching, Rebecca compiled and co-edited Breakfast on Mars, an anthology of essays for kids by notable authors, which received several starred reviews and was on NY Public Library’s “100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2013” list. She currently works for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a nonprofit that believes stories matter. Rebecca has a husband who loves to cook, an amazingly sweet and adorable son who loves to bang on things, and a dog who loves to bark. In rare moments of silence, Rebecca enjoys reading, writing, and doing the occasional downward dog.


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