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Most parents want to raise their children to be generous, but teaching children about charity can be tricky. In part because parents themselves will often have mixed feelings about charity. On the one hand, we do want to be generous with people who have endured or encountered hardship through no fault of their own, yet at the same time, we don’t want to enable those who are unwilling to help themselves. In addition, even giving to an organized charity doesn’t always ensure your dollars will really be making the impact they should. Here are 3 smart ways for parents to teach children about charity.

Direct Involvement

Whether it’s handing out sandwiches to the homeless or taking a trip to a developing nation to build homes, schools or hand out medical supplies, there are a range of ways to get children directly involved in charity work. Many times, this kind of work makes the most lasting impact because they can literally see the difference between how they live and how those they are serving live. Not only can this make them more generous, but it can also make them more grateful for what they have.

Researching Charities

Helping kids research charities can be a great way to help children learn smart giving. Not only are effective charities highly educated in their approach to philanthropy, but they also offer a high degree of transparency. By researching charities, your children can not only choose a cause that is meaningful to them, but they can also better understand what makes a charity effective. Charity Navigator is a great place to start, but you can also encourage them to dig even deeper.

Raise Money or Make a Personal Investment

Well-meaning parents may be tempted to simply give their children money to give to a charity. Your children will most likely gain far more by giving their own hard-earned money than yours. You can contribute to this, however, in a number of ways. For instance, you might give them 50 cents to put in the “make a change” jar every time they do their homework or make their bed. Then, when they reach a certain goal, they get to use the money for a charitable act of their choice. It might be donating to a charity they care about, or it could be doing something nice for someone that’s in need.

No matter what the cause, teaching your children about giving back is extremely important, and helps them understand and create ways to help others as they grow.