Charity Checks

Family Giving

Family Giving


Experts in the field of family giving suggest ways to make Giving Certificates part of your family's philanthropy program.

Jenny Friedman - circle.png

"Family rituals provide children with a sense of stability, continuity and identity.  When those traditions involve charitable giving, kids also receive a powerful lesson in compassion and community responsibility." Read more.

– Jenny Friedman, Executive Director, Doing Good Together

Susan Price - circle.png

"Charity Checks Giving Certificates are useful tools for parents and grandparents interested in encouraging kids to consider their community's needs and how they can help. By giving the gift of a Charity Check, you give a child an opportunity to think about organizations they could help and make a choice about the one they care about the most. It's a great way to start conversations with the next generation about the importance of contributing to society and making a difference in the world." Read more.

– Susan C. Price, Managing Director, Family Foundation Services, Council on Foundations

"It's the whole notion of stewardship... You move out of yourself and into the wider community and start thinking about needs." Read more.

– David Lockhart (from the Los Angeles Times)

Mary Coleman - circle.png

"The bonds that are formed from family-initiated, family-planned giving are strong and life-long." Read more.

– Mary Coleman, Life Coach

Examples of family philanthropy activities that can easily be adapted to include Charity Checks' Giving Certificates:

Holding a Dinner Table Foundation Meeting

What you'll need: an easel or pad of newsprint, markers, memo pads and pencils for each family member, mailings requesting donations, play money (optional).

  1. Decide in advance of the meeting what amount your family will give to charity.
  2. If your children are young, you should also pre-determine how funding decisions will be made (e.g., each family member picks his or her own charities, the family votes on them as a group, or a combination of the two methods). If your children are older, they may want to participate in devising the plan.
  3. Set the time and place for the family meeting. At that time, turn off the TV, let the answering machine catch your phone calls, etc. so you aren't interrupted by distractions.
  4. On the top of the easel or large pad, post the amount of money you plan to have the family allocate to charity.
  5. Explain how the decisions will be made.
  6. List the preferences of each family member on the pad.
  7. Use the play money to help the kids visualize how the money could be divided among the chosen charities.
  8. Vote on which organizations to fund and in what amounts.
  9. Let the kids help you write the checks.

Note: When your children are very young, keep the meeting brief (20 minutes for kindergartners) and limit the choices of charities to three or four that are likely to appeal to them (e.g., the local animal shelter). Don't focus on the amounts to be given until they are old enough to understand money.

- Susan Crites Price, author of The Giving Family, Raising Your Children to Help Others

Family Rituals

Family rituals provide children with a sense of stability, continuity and identity. When those traditions involve charitable giving, kids also receive a powerful lesson in compassion and community responsibility. 

To celebrate birthdays and holidays, present the kids on your list (your own children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren) with Charity Checks Giving Certificates. The idea is that you supply the funds, and the child chooses the charitable recipient. It's the perfect opportunity to begin a conversation with children about the importance of philanthropy and how to make wise giving choices. Talk to them about their interests and how to determine which charitable organizations most closely match their passions.

But you can go even further. After you and your child have identified a recipient that fits their interests, try to search out a related volunteer opportunity for your family.  For example, if your child is an animal lover and has designated his or her funds for the local Humane Society, call and arrange a visit and offer to walk dogs there together one Saturday each month.  This way your child will learn that being charitable is about both giving and serving.

For more ideas about how to raise compassionate and socially conscious children through family volunteering, visit

- Jenny Friedman, Executive Director, Doing Good Together

Holiday Tradition

This story from the Lockhart family is excerpted from an article in the Los Angeles Times:

Parents, who knew that their children had all the material things they needed, gave them a check that had to be given away.

"For us, it's given our daughters the chance to think about what matters most to them," said David Lockhart, 53, who splits his time between homes in Santa Monica and Great Barrington, Mass. "It's the whole notion of stewardship. What do I care enough about to give this to? You move out of yourself and into the wider community and start thinking about needs."

Lockhart's daughter, Abby, 23, said that when she received her first Charity Check four years ago, she didn't know quite what to do with it. "But then I started to research and learned that there were so many nonprofit organizations that needed help." She has given her $150 checks to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, in memory of a friend who died of cancer, and to other medical research organizations.

"I think because of this, charitable giving will always be a part of life," she said.

Families and Philanthropy – A Meaningful and Happy-Making Combination

Feeling cranky?  Feeling alone even though you’re surrounded by friends and family? Frustrated that your children are begging for that next new toy or gadget that will soon be set aside in the constant search for something shinier, newer, prettier, bigger?  Finding that your own accumulation of things is getting overwhelming or that you’re no longer even satisfied with all your “stuff”?  Has the pressure to keep up with the Joneses has become absurd?  There is an antidote. You CAN stop the insanity. Stop. Breathe. Help someone else.
Dr. Andrew Weil, noted Harvard-trained physician and proponent of natural medicine, tells us in a variety of his books and lectures that there are several modern day stressors that create imbalance and are actually relatively easily remedied. Two of these are loneliness and emptiness. I hear these words often in my practice as a psychotherapist working with individuals, couples, and families. Even people with large families tell me they’re often lonely. Holiday seasons often stir up a sense of emptiness for people – a sense that lurks very close to the surface, just underneath all the glitter and activity. We want to connect with friends and family, but we don’t always know how. We forget to count our own blessings and then reach out to help others from our own foundation of abundance, security, and prosperity.
One of the best ways in our culture to combat emptiness and loneliness is to give. It’s not a secret formula. Service heals. Service makes us feel better. Service lets us experience companionship and lends meaning to our lives. Giving grows us. Giving soothes us. Giving works.
Most children in middle class and upper class homes truly don’t need any more “things.” They’re hungry for play with parents and siblings. They want time and attention. Children are little sponges and will soak up what they see and hear. If you want to teach your children to be good citizens and generous people, show them by doing. Be with them. Talk with them. Discuss concepts like gratitude and sharing.
Here are some ways you can enrich your life and the lives of your children:

  • Ask the young ones to pick one of their own toys to give to a child who has NO toys. Talk to them about what it might be like to not have enough food or to not have a safe place to sleep at night. Let them know that the gift of their toy might just be the coolest gift another child has ever received. Talk about how good that feels.
  • Ask your children who can read to do some research on charities. What is a charity? How do they work? What kinds of charities are your children drawn to? How might they become involved with a charity?
  • Make it a family project to decide together to GIVE. You can give your time, your talent, your money. Give gifts like Charity Checks Giving Certificates. The effort and money spent on a project like this will take root and grow in ways you might not even be able to imagine.    

I recently attended the Annual California Conference on Women and Families. At this conference, high profile, multi-talented, powerful people spoke about what was important in their lives. To the person, from Maria Shriver to Barbara Walters to Tom Brokaw to Sandra Day O’Connor, all said the most important part of their lives had to do with their children – loving them, raising them, learning from them, helping them and then setting them out into the world to be their best selves. To the person, again, these leaders all spoke passionately about giving and about how service is essential to meaningful existence.
Your job, as a parent, is to instill the values and habits into your children that will help them find their voices and their talents and make room for them to be happy people. There is no surer way to do this, and also combat the loneliness and emptiness that often plagues us; than through teaching and acting on being of service. The bonds that are formed from family-initiated, family-planned giving are strong and life-long. Adult clients tell me the most meaningful times in their lives were when their families worked together for somebody else. Children tell me it feels good to share. Dr. Weil says a successful approach to the healing of depression is service. When I set families to the task of charity work, other conflicts often disappear or take on a completely different feel. Want to combat loneliness and emptiness in your family? Want to instill your values into your grade schooler or get closer to your teen? Then Give. Share. Serve.

- Mary Coleman is a licensed professional counselor