As soon as you become a parent, you have a powerful incentive to make the world a better place. You also have a lot less time to devote to good causes.
As soon as you become a parent, you have a powerful incentive to make the world a better place. You also have a lot less time to devote to good causes. One solution: Do good deeds online where there are thousands of opportunities to do good things for kids and adults.
Even though online bad guys often grab headlines, the Internet also is teeming with people who want to help each other.
Some of the ideas in the following list are simple enough for young children; others require a parent to take the lead. Either way, there are opportunities for family philanthropy - and lots of opportunities to talk about how important it is for people to share both time and money with those who need it.
NetworkforGood.org has a very straightforward Kid's Guide to Giving (http://tinyurl.com/mut7oj) that helps even very young children identify meaningful ways to volunteer their time or donate their pocket money. There also are ideas for how children can raise funds for causes they want to support.
Microgiving is the latest trend in philanthropy because small gifts at the right time in the right place often can make a big difference. Globalgiving.org allows you and your kids to search for good causes all over the world. The projects are described in very concrete terms so you know exactly what your dollars will do - $40 sends a child in India to school for a year, $100 provides clean water for 100 children in China, and so on. Users also can purchase gift cards so the recipient can have the satisfaction of deciding where a donation should go.
Use the network. Most social networking sites now include many philanthropic opportunities. MySpace gives Impact awards to groups that are creative about using their pages to do good things. (To find a directory of these causes, search "All of MySpace" for Impact.) On Facebook, try searching on "Feed a Child with Just a Click." You'll find a long list of websites where you can make donations as easily as clicking on an icon. Teens also may be interested in social networks devoted entirely to making a difference, such as Make The Difference Network (mtdn.com), or to a single cause such as climate change on One Climate (oneclimate.net).
Adolescents, especially those who need to find community service hours, are also likely to respond to the energy at Dosomething.org, a website dedicated to the proposition that teens can change the world. In addition to inspiring stories about what other young people have accomplished, the site offers a sophisticated way of searching for volunteer opportunities by location, duration, interest groups and causes.
Treat a teacher.
If your kids are lucky enough to attend good schools, think about adopting a teacher at a school that is struggling. At Donorschoose.org, teachers post eloquent messages about what supplies are needed in their classrooms. You can support a project in full or in part, and you might want to browse with your kids to find a class with students in the same grades.
Answer a question.
Many sites promise to donate every time you answer quiz questions correctly. Everywon.com has quizzes about a variety of topics. Each correct answer earns two points which can be "spent" on a variety of causes like planting trees, buying books for kids, providing meals for hungry people and so on. Charitii.com is an addictive collection of crossword puzzle clues. Each time you guess the correct word, you make a micro donation to one of four causes. Freerice.com also offers quiz questions including some that will help kids review for tests in geography, grammar and algebra. Knowing that you're doing good for others at the same time may make homework a little more palatable for some kids.
In most households, the computer stays on even when someone isn't using it. You can donate that downtime to scientific research through a project managed by Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, also known as BOINC. Signing up is easy at boinc.berkeley.edu and you can even pick the research project you want to support.
Collect for a cause.
Kids love to collect things. Thanks to the Internet, you can think beyond the traditional canned food drive. What about a sock drive? Six-year-old Hannah started collecting socks after she met a homeless man who didn't have any. Now 45,000 pairs of socks later, she uses a website (hannahs socks.org) to share her enthusiasm. Kids also can collect worn-out blue jeans (cottonfromblueto
green.org), video games (donategames.org) and almost anything else they don't need anymore. Just type in what they want to collect and "donate" into the name of a search engine.
Search for good. Speaking of search engines, consider using one that donates every time you use it. Goodsearch.com lets you choose the charity of choice from a huge master list. Theecokey.com donates money to environmental clean-up projects each time you click "search."
Finally, before donating time or money to any organization you discover online (or anywhere else for that matter), do a little research to be sure the group is legitimate.
The Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) reports on non-profits, as does Charitynavigator.org. Guidestar.com and Charitywatch.org also are reputable sources of information. Use these sources to find a cause that is meaningful to you and your children. Then, open your hearts and start a habit of generosity that will enrich your children for the rest of their lives.