Possibly the best gift you could give your children this Christmas is to teach them the value of giving.
While there is strong psychological research showing giving increases the sense of wellbeing of the giver, we are not born with this knowledge.
The truth is people consistently over-estimate the impact on their wellbeing of acquiring things and underestimate the impact of giving, especially to those to whom they have an emotional connection.
But this can be overcome by encouraging our children to experience the joy of giving directly. A good way to do this is to give them a gift voucher to microcredit charity Kiva.
The beauty of the Kiva website is that it connects lenders to poor entrepreneurs all around the world. So for as little as $25, you give your child the power to significantly change another person’s life.
Better still, your child can sit down and browse through the profiles of entrepreneurs in a variety of countries and choose who they’d like to lend money to. This way, they can see directly how they are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for their family.
It’s also a great way to teach children the value of money, and help them understand financial concepts such as lending, repayments and interest. Best of all, it’s an ongoing experience for you and your child.
Here are some really interesting statistics: http://www.kiva.org/about
Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you and your child will receive email updates and track repayments.
Then, when your child gets their loan money back, (the repayment rate is around 98%), they can re-lend to someone else.
Through this process, your child can develop an emotional connection with the recipient, and will no doubt receive significant emotional capital in return for a small dollar investment.
This is a great way for them to learn early the value of giving.
Sometimes concern is expressed about the amount of donated funds that are dedicated to running an organisation, as opposed to your donation going where it’s needed. Organisations DO cost money to run, there is no doubt about that, but this is how Kiva do it.
They have commercial sponsors who donate to the running costs of Kiva, they are supported by philanthropists large and small, and you as an individual can also choose to donate to the running of Kiva if you choose:
Introducing your family, your children, to the act of giving is in itself a gift!
Try it, you’ll like it.
(This article first appeared on www.happychild.com.au in 2010)