How to Make Charitable Giving a Family Tradition

Family Walking in the Woods Together

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Charitable giving can feel difficult or even impossible when we’re in debt and barely scraping by. When we’ve lifted ourselves up to a position of financial strength and confidence, giving back feels like the right thing to do.

Sharing the wealth with our neighbors in need is a privilege and an honor. 

There are so many who need our help here in the United States: 
Globally, the issues are even larger:

When you hear statistics like that, it can feel overwhelming. But I believe we can tackle these huge challenges the same way we tackle our huge financial challenges. One step at a time. 

Here are 7 strategies to help you make charitable giving a family tradition.

1. Ladder Up Your Giving

You may not be giving much today, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change. Set a goal to increase your giving by 1% or 2% and pick a realistic timeframe to make it happen. 

My family did this over the past few years and it’s been an exciting adventure of discovering what is most important to us. 

In 2017, we realized we were only giving 1% of our income. There was nothing wrong with that. We just felt we could give more. 

We set a goal to give 3% the following year. And we did it. 

This year, we laddered up to 5%. We didn’t do it overnight. We did this over a 2 year period of time and now it doesn’t feel like such a jolt to our budget. It just feels right. 

So pick a timeframe and a percentage and ladder up your giving. 

2. Encourage Your Kids to Give

Giving becomes a lot more fun and impactful when you get the whole family involved. Try setting a tradition where you give with your kids. This can be with your money and their money too! 

A couple of years ago, I started a tradition with my kids called “The Big Give”. This is an opportunity for our family to give together.

Here’s how it goes:

Step 1

Get milkshakes and ice cream because everything is better with milkshakes and ice cream.

Step 2

Empty out each of our kids “Give Jars”. This is a glass jar where our kids have been saving 10% of their chore and reward money each week for the past 12 weeks. 

Step 3

Count how much money is in each jar. 

Step 4 

Watch 3 videos from charity websites so the kids can decide who they want to give to.

(Zoey is a fan of WWF lately because she wants to save Pandas and Calvin has been giving a lot of his money to Say Detroit to help homeless people).

Step 5 

Match the kid’s donations. Double the impact. 

Step 6

Make the donation on the website and write a special note to the organization about who is making the donation. (This little extra step allowed my 4-year old son to meet Mitch Albom!).

Step 7

Talk to your kids about the impact they are having on these organizations and the world. Let them know you are proud of them because they are making the world a better place to live in. 

Rinse and repeat every quarter for the rest of their childhood. And maybe, just maybe, they will do the same with their kids. 

3. Make Giving Automatic

One of my favorite sections in David Bach’s book, “The Automatic Millionaire” was about becoming an automatic giver. He encourages readers to sign up for an automatic monthly contribution to your favorite church, charity or non-profit. This way, you can’t forget to donate. 

If you do this at the beginning of the year and plan for it each month, just like investing, you’re giving will grow. In what seems like no time at all, you’ll be a generous giver. 

4. Find Charities That Move You

If giving away your money feels like pulling teeth, then it may be time for you to look for another charity or cause. Give your money to an organization that lifts up your heart and makes you feel like your money is going to make the world a better place. 

Here are a few charities that I admire and I’ve had the pleasure to interview on my show:

Find organizations that align with your values and create a fire in your belly. The majority of my charitable giving goes to organizations that are focused on giving kids a better shot at life. 

Ask yourself …

  • What do I care about the most?
  • Who inspires me?
  • What wrong do I want to make right in my community and my country?

I think these are some of the most important questions we can ask ourselves. 

5. Give Big Year-End Gifts

We’ve talked about the power of sinking funds for our everyday finances, but how about using a sinking fund for some big giving?

Instead of giving $100 per month to your favorite charity, consider giving a one time $1,200 donation. How fun would that be?!

In the past, we’ve done automatic giving and it’s allowed us to stay consistent and support our favorite charities year-round. This year we’re going for the big donation. I’m not sure which one we’ll like more, but experimenting is fun!

6. Donor-Advised Funds

If you are looking for a tax-efficient way to give back, consider Donor Advised Funds. 

A Donor Advised Fund is like an investment account but for charitable giving. Your contributions (or donations) can grow like an investment account allowing you to give now or in the future. 

This could be a way for you and your family to have a big impact. 

7. Random Acts of Kindness

Have you ever heard of those people who pay for someone’s entire bill at the grocery store? Or the people who leave a $100 tip for their waitress on their $10 lunch bill?

Those types of people are my heroes! 

I want to be a hero like that. And I want you to join me. 

This month, I’m joining a group of other YouTubers who are looking to make an impact in their community through Random Acts of Kindness

My family’s contribution will be taking part in another “Big Tip Tuesday”. We had a lot of fun with this last year and want to do it again. My wife and I will both take a $100 bill (or multiple $20’s) and give it randomly to people who are working in the service industry during the holiday season. 

These folks are paying off debt, providing for their families during the holidays or just simply to making ends meet. They might be working at your favorite fast food place, driving you in an Uber or cutting your hair.  Let’s bring a smile to their face with a BIG tip. 

And maybe, just maybe, that kindness will have a ripple effect that will make others smile. 

I’d love for you to join me, my wife and our fun group of YouTubers. Let’s make a difference in our community this month. 

My goal is to spread $1,000 of joy this holiday season to our hard-working neighbors in the service industry so if I could 8 more of you to join me with $100 tips, we’d be there!

Contact me, leave me a voicemail or comment below and tell me all about your plans or how you gave!

This is what the holidays are all about … giving with all your heart.


What charitable giving traditions do you have with your family?

Please let us know in the comments below.



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Author: Andy Hill

Andy Hill is the host of the Marriage, Kids and Money Podcast which focuses on helping young families build wealth. This 5-star rated podcast was nominated as "Best New Personal Finance Podcast" by Plutus. Andy's advice and personal finance experience have been featured in major media outlets like Business Insider, MarketWatch and NBC News.

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