charities kids can relate to, kids charities, charities for kids

Charities for Kids to Support

Teaching Kids About Charities

Thank you to my reader Ali who asked me to post on charities that kids can support. These non-profits below have touched me. If you have your children working on personal finance with a system to Spend, Save and Donate, perhaps some of these organizations will be lucky recipients.

Another way to teach kids about helping others is to have a no gifts birthday party and ask guests to instead make a small donation in lieu of a gift. My son’s birthday is coming up and I struggle with the idea of gifts, especially when I know it’s going to be a large party.

Thank you notes are the first hurdle. My kids know that if they have a gifts birthday party, they are expected to write a handwritten thank you note to every guest. This means careful tracking of gifts to guests, as well as the labor intensive actual writing of the notes.

But it’s not like my kids need more stuff. They get presents from relatives and from us and our house is brimming over with toys. An influx of toys requires an equal amount of outgoing donations.

My kids are still not down with the idea of No Gifts Parties, even with the burden of Thank You notes and selecting old toys to donate.  I’m wondering if having them choose a charity that is meaningful to them will be motivating. We don’t need more stuff and this is the season to give back.

This year will mark the first time my kids will Donate from the Spend/Save/Donate money allocations that they are theoretically making. They are definitely good at Spend. They did some Save but it has petered out. I’ll keep you posted on where they Donate.

Our elementary school has a Social Action Committee that introduces charities and ways in which kids can support them on a monthly basis. Presented as a monthly offering and tied into Walk to School Day, my kids walk to school — a novelty for them — typically accompanied by a donation which varied from canned food, used sneakers, warm used coats to handwritten cards to veterans.

It’s never to early to teach your kids to care about those who have less and I’m thankful that my school helps with this important life lesson.

Please add your charities that you think kids will want to support as a comment and I’ll add them to this list. What do you do to teach your kids about supporting charities? Please share!


World Altering Medicine

I learned about World Altering Medicine after reading this great post on The Fourth Musketeer. Shana Berg, author of Laugh with the Moon, writes about conditions in Malawi and was also the guest post author. Her book would make a great book club for kids!

Soccer without Borders

Our friend Sydnie is in this video with Boston College soccer player alumni Julia. My kids ask for new soccer cleats whenever they shoes feel tight and they think nothing of it. They ask for new shin guards when their old ones rub blisters on their feet. But what if you can’t afford soccer cleats? In the United States, you can’t play soccer.  It’s part of our requirements; the kids line up for the referee to show that they have no jewelry on, tap their shins to show they have cleats and turn around with their shoe facing up to show that they are wearing cleats. Since soccer is a popular sport for lots of kids, this charity might really resonate with them.

Birthday Wishes

Though this organization is based in Boston with outreach to New York, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, kids know the importance of celebrating their birthday. Birthday Wishes allows homeless children to have that special celebration that they otherwise would not.

First Book

The first no-gifts party that my oldest attended asked for a donation to First Book in lieu of presents. The thought of kids who have no books at all personally moves me. A steady diet of good books give kids literacy skills that give them endless opportunities in life and so this organization is especially dear to my heart.


Helping animals is something all kids support so this organization has mass appeal.


Locks of Love

It’s great for kids to realize that they can make a difference simply by growing their hair long enough to donate 10 inches (as measured from the pony tail holder). It’s also such a personal donation that requires sustained motivation.

It takes my kids about two years to grow their hair long enough that 10 inches still leaves them just enough hair to pull it back in a pony tail. My hair stylist normally only cuts adults, but she will give them a free amazing cut whenever they are ready to make their hair donation. After the cut (and a lot of before and after photos), we go to Starbucks to celebrate. It’s such a great feeling of accomplishment!

When you are a little kid and don’t get much money, it might not be easy to make a financial contribution to a charity but you can always grow and give up your hair. It’s one personal way to make a connection about charity and realize that you can, even as a child,  make a difference in someone’s life.

And, as I stroke their silky soft hair, I know someone will appreciate it very much, especially knowing that it came from a stranger with love.

Locks of Love donation, donating hair, donating hair, girls donating hair to locks of lovedonating hair, locks of love,

Teach your kids good money habits with FamZoo's Virtual Family Bank.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Thank you for sharing these kid-friendly charities!
    maryanne recently posted…Three Baby Pumpkins and our Week 🙂My Profile

  2. Nancy

    Congrats on being th featured blog at moms!
    Nancy recently posted…iD Gum or why I am suddenly so popularMy Profile

  3. Ann

    What a great post idea! So far I have managed just family parties but I bet the gifts at a big party are just too much. It feels like it’s too much just from family! I like the idea of a charity associated with kids interests. My kids would definitely choose to help animals!
    Ann recently posted…It’s a BlurMy Profile

  4. What an interesting post. Thankyou for that information.

    I will show my children and I am sure it will generate some interesting discussion. I don’t think they will go for the donate idea but it will get them thinking about how many advantages they have in life compared to those less fortunate than themselves.

    • Hi Christin,
      I think just for kids to learn that other kids have less than they do is a great life lesson regardless if they are interested in donating. I think it’s great that you are willing to discuss this with them!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this list of charities. It’s a great reminder that we should be teaching our kids to give more. Thanks for sharing with the Afterschool Linkup!
    Julie recently posted…Afterschool LinkupMy Profile

  6. Definitely check us out! We are a great way for children to get involved in philanthropy & community service! From our Adopt a Night Night Package Program to becoming a Birthday Hero! Lots of ways to get involved from 1-100 years old!

    -The Project Night Night Team

  7. Great list! Love seeing children being taught service.
    Susan Case recently posted…ARK – Acts of Random Kindness for Kids & Adults with Free PrintablesMy Profile

    • Hi Susan,
      I am so glad to that my kids’ elementary school is gently guiding the kids towards all kinds of options that let them realize how much of a difference a single individual — even a kid — can do. It’s wonderful! And hopefully, it motivates them to do this their entire life.

  8. I love this post! My wife and I could not agree more – so much so that we started our own business to tackle this EXACT problem. We created a way to not only let our children donate a portion of their birthday gifts to charity, creating a valuable teaching opportunity, but allow them to get one (or few) MEANINGFUL gifts at the same time. Please check us out – I think you’ll love it as much as we do!

  9. Buck

    Sorry, I just realized my website didn’t get published in my earlier comment! Anyway, here it is…

  10. Great post and great options for charities!

    We’ve had much success with Charity parties where you bring the birthday child a dollar or five or ten dollars and match the same amount for the charity your birthday child chooses.

    Choosing the charity becomes a great way to talk about community need with your child and it gives them the opportunity to realize what’s important to them to support. We usually support the local food bank but we’ve also chosen the SPCA.

    If you figure your guest will likely spend around $20 for a gift then you can ask for a $10 cash gift and a $10 donation to the charity. Your child can learn to be financially savvy and have an opportunity the feel the good karma reward of giving back to the community, which is a priceless gift. One year my daughter decided to give some of her present money to the charity as well. [Insert proud mama moment….]
    Stefanie recently posted…Pedestrian safety: The flasher works it’s magicMy Profile

    • Hi Stephanie,
      I LOVE that idea. And it also gives something to the birthday child which is our stickler. I also like how the birthday money can be used to buy a few gifts that the child really wants and give $ to manage.

      But the idea of figuring out where to donate is so empowering! I love that!

      My son’s bday party is coming up. I am going to ask him if he is willing to do that. Thanks so much for your great suggestion and you should be proud — it is really impactful what you are teaching your kids!!!

  11. We’ve done no gift parties for all of their friend parties and usually tie the charity in with the party theme. At a baseball themed party, my son collected balls for a local children’s charity. At a kickball party, we collected donations for Soles4Soles. We’ve collected toys for the local children’s hospital and my daughter has donated her hair twice. I think the more you do donations and collections as a family, the more it just seems “normal” for kids.
    heather recently posted…Reading List Summary, October 2012My Profile

    • Hi Heather,
      I love your ideas. I proposed a no gifts — $5 to charity and $5 to him — party for my 8-year-old son but he didn’t want to do it. Also, my husband wasn’t comfortable asking for money. I like your idea of a themed donation. I’m going to try that next time! What would you collect for a laser tag party though? …

  12. Great suggestions! I love the Spend, Save & Donate idea. I have a Pinterest board called “Ways Kids Can Give” which features some great charitable organizations and projects kids can participate in. Here’s the link:
    Jill recently posted…How Community Gardens Can Help Kids Go GlobalMy Profile

  13. Megan

    For our daughter’s first birthday we had a shoe themed girly party. In lieu of gifts guests brought a pair of flip flops to donate to Faces Without Places. It is a Cincinnati organization that supports homeless children. Phenomenal place. I’m glad we aren’t alone with the idea of instilling this thought on our Children.

  14. Skim

    I looked in to Locks of Love when donating my child’s hair and found out that they sell the real hair that is donated to them and buy the kids synthetic hair instead. The children and families who receive the wigs also have to PAY for them on a sliding scale. I ended up donating to Pantene Beautiful Lengths because all the hair donated will go to make a wig for a person in need and at no charge.

  15. If you google it, it will come up. This information is also available on the Locks of Love website in the FAQ. Their rationale for giving kids synthetic wigs is because the kids will need several wigs as they grow and using real hair would be costly. According to their tax returns, they’ve made an incredible amount off of selling hair. It also states on their website that families will have to pay on a sliding scale depending on financial ability. There’s nothing really wrong with this and they don’t hide these facts since it’s on the website but I think people who donate their precious hair or the hair of their kids should know. Personally, I opted for Beautiful Lengths because all useable donated hair goes to make wigs for people who are ill, free of charge.

    From Skim
    Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Let’s Go Fly a Kite!My Profile

  16. Not to beat dead horse but here’s an interesting article.

    The math doesn’t add up. Locks of Love receives 2,000 ponytails a WEEK and they’ve only provided 1,000 wigs since 1997.
    Pantene received 18,000 ponytails in total and provided 2,000 wigs. This article was written in 2007 but it still indicative of the way the two organization operate. Personally, I find the gross disparity shocking. But, to each her own.

    By the way, I loved your post.

    From Skim via email to me.
    Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Let’s Go Fly a Kite!My Profile

  17. Justine

    To think that people nowadays are being good about helping people and expanding their care upon the other stuff. When talking about the charity stuff this may need some support to other people like the rich people and the government. But consider thins that it can be a big help to everyone.

  18. Great article. I really appreciate you for writing an article about teaching charity to the kids

    easyday recently posted…Best Love Messages and WordingsMy Profile

  19. One of the best teaching article I ever read. Charity is such great cause that everybody must participate in it. It always pays back. Big or small, but there must be something we should donate. And kids…. yes they so pure and soft at heart. If we teach them about charity, they feel the pain of people and grow in a better way. Good work. Lots of good wishes from our side.
    B’day Wishes recently posted…Many people are gladMy Profile

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