When our two kids were only ages 6 and 8, they came up with an idea to hold a chess tournament to raise money for charity. It was going to be a one-time event. They hoped to have a few friends come and play, and if they were lucky, maybe raise a few hundred dollars. They told all their friends and family, hung up posters at school, and ended up getting over 100 people to come, and raising over $2,000! It was so successful that they wanted to do it again. So they did. Now, just 4 years later, it is an annual event, they have their own non-profit corporation, a cool logo, and have raised over $15,000 for charities!
It was all the kids’ idea, but it did take some work from us, the parents, to help them pull it off. But even when we helped, we made them participate, and had them make all the big decisions.
Here’s how we did it. You can too.
Chess may not be your kids’ thing. But something is. And there’s always a great cause in the news. Our kids’ best advice is to know that “even little kids can make a big difference.” And they advise other kids who want to follow in their footsteps to not worry about making it big. Gabby says “just start small, with something fun to you.” Garrett says, “don’t worry how big it will be, just try something.”
Step 1: Take something your kids find fun to do, and create a charity event for it. It can be for anything – a sports tournament, video games, art, etc. For example, if your child loves art, you can get a bunch of kids together to create cool artwork to sell and have adults buy the art. If your kids love soccer, organize a mini one day fun soccer tournament for charity. Do what your kids enjoy. Find a space at a local school, community room, park or field. You will charge admission and/or sell things at the event, and donate the proceeds to a charity.
Step 2: Pick a charity. Many will already have a donation website where you can send donors directly, or you can use a fundraising site (CrowdRise.com, FirstGiving.com, GoFundMe.com, etc.), to set up a page where your donations can be tracked for you and, in some cases still go directly to the charity, so donors get a tax receipt.
One suggestion is to pick something local, so your kids can visit in person and see where the money is going. For our first event, we chose the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater DC, which help house displaced families who are visiting in town long term because their child is in a local hospital. We called the charity and told them what we wanted to do and they gave us a tour before our event and met our kids.
After the event, we personally delivered the money we collected the day of the event, and donated all our leftover unopened packaged foods. This “made it real” for the kids instead of merely mailing a check to someone we never met.
Step 3: Publicize. A lot. Have the kids promote it by talking about it in school, and in all their activities. Tell their sports teams. Tell your friends. Post it on your social media pages. Post it in the local online news – most local websites have a community calendar or events area where you can post local events for free.
Create flyers and post them and hand them out. Create your own website if you want, or just use the webpage from the fundraising site to tell your story if you want to keep it simple. Call the local community newspaper and see if they will write a story about it or at least post it in their upcoming events area.
Make sure you collect email addresses from everyone who shows up, so if you decide to do it again, you can send an e-mail to all of them to come back next time.
Step 4 (optional): Try to get corporate sponsors. Many local businesses will donate $25-100 dollars for good causes in the community if you ask. Try local grocery stores, restaurants, or businesses with the same theme as the event (e.g., a local art studio for an art event, or the local sporting goods store for a soccer tournament).
They may give cash or gift cards. You can use gift cards from supermarkets or Costco to buy sodas and snacks to sell at the event. You can give away gift cards or store merchandise as prizes for the “winners” of your event. Ask a local pizza place to donate pizzas you can sell by the slice.
Tell all these donors you will publicly mention them and thank them at your event. Bring the kids with you to make the pitch.
Again, don’t be intimidated. Start small, but start. And have fun. The goal is for your child or children to learn that charity can be fun, and even little kids can have a big impact. Get started and good luck!!
This guest post was written by By Brian Heller from Chess 4 Charity Inc. Please check out their website (and make a tax deductible donation, take the #ChessChallenge, and/or buy a t-shirt) at www.Chess4Charity.org.)Filed under Kid Activities, Parenting Advice | Comment (0)