Young children should be given a bigger role in deciding which charities their schools and families support, according to a new U.K. study from the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University.
For the study, 150 children, ages 4 to 8, were asked by a team of 60 student researcher associates about their understanding of charitable giving and their experiences of fundraising events.
The initial findings showed that kids were primarily only aware of charities and events they had participated in at school. Further, they were often not aware of the reason for the event beyond it being something out of the ordinary.
The researchers then worked with the children to explain more about the range of charities and causes to which they could donate. This included helping them look into areas they might want to give money to based on their own interests and concerns.
This helped the children become more engaged in developing their own ideas around charitable giving, rather than just following orders from teachers or parents.
As such, when offered the chance to theoretically give £100 ($130) to a charity, they were given a variety of charities from which to choose. Overall charities that relieve human suffering, such as homelessness or poverty, were the most popular, with 28 percent selecting money for charities in this area. Wildlife charities (26 percent) and charities supporting children and young people (27 percent) were also popular areas of giving.
Medical research charities (12 percent) and international relief charities (7 percent) were not as popular, though, which the researchers say may be because many children lack direct experience or understanding of these issues.
“It’s great that children are so heavily involved in charitable events but the research shows more needs to be done to help them play an active role in the sorts of causes and charities they help support, whether at school or at home,” said Dr. Alison Body from the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) at Kent.
“This early active engagement can have a lifelong impact on how they understand and engage with charities and philanthropy more generally.”
The researchers say parents and schools should do more to engage children with charity, and take the time to better understand what causes they are most interested in donating to, rather than simply defaulting to the most popular causes.
Source: University of Kent