How to Get Kids Engaged in Philanthropy


September is always the time of year I resolve to set new, positive habits and one of the things on my list this year is philanthropy.

My family’s philanthropic and community service activities are usually limited to the holidays. We contribute to the food bank and winter clothing drives at school and work. Outside of that we fundraise for our own team and club initiatives and support friends and family in their various runs, walks and rides.

When I think about the big picture life skills and character traits I want my kids to learn and have, being compassionate citizens is right up there. I want them to understand the needs and contribute to their communities in a meaningful way.

There are lots of ways to get kids interested and involved in philanthropy. Start by finding something your kids are interested in, or a cause that’s close to your family’s heart. Then explain to your kids why that organization needs your help and what we can do as a family. Help them craft any fundraising messages using their own words to help mentally connect the cause and the action they’re taking.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of some upcoming family-friendly fundraisers and events, as well as volunteer opportunities and other ideas to get your littles excited about helping others.


Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope: September 10.

Held in more than 35 communities nationwide, this family-friendly walk is dedicated to raising funds for support, awareness, research and, ultimately, a cure for ovarian cancer. You can register as a team or an individual and all proceeds support Ovarian Cancer Canada.

RBC Race for the Kids Toronto: September 16.

Estimates say only one in five Canadians with a mental health issue will get the help they need. RBC’s Race for the Kids, with its 5k, 7k and 15k options, has raised more than $7 million in three years for youth mental health. Fundraising minimums start at $20 for kids under 10 and the race kit includes a bib, medal, t-shirt and access to the post-race party and food. Dogs and strollers are welcome on the 5k route.

Terry Fox Run: September 17

Many Canadian school boards promote fundraising for the Terry Fox Foundation with runs and events happening in schools every September. But if you want to get the whole family involved, the annual run happens nationwide on September 17. Regardless of athletic ability, everyone can sign up to bike, walk, run or blade in support of cancer research.

Oasis ZooRun: September 23.

Lions and Tigers and Giant Pandas … oh my! This annual event usually sells out (the Kids Cub Run and 5k with baby stroller options already have) but there’s still space in the 5k and 10k that take place right on the zoo’s scenic grounds Come dressed as your favourite animal and participate in the costume contest. Registration starts at $55 until September 17 and participants will receive a souvenir shirt and finisher medal.

CANACCORD Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk for SickKids: September 23.

Not ready for summer to end? Sign up to participate in this fifth annual event in support of SickKids Hospital. Walk, hike or stroll along a 5k, 10k, 15k or 20k route and earn badges at fun activity-filled “campsites” that bring the spirit of camp to downtown Toronto. Not up for a walk or run?  Help out behind the scenes as a member of the crew.

Canadian Cancer Society CIBC Run for the Cure: October 1.

Even though the mortality rate has declined by 44% since the 1980s, 1 in 8 women will still be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. This event is an inspirational day of hope, pink and positivity that raises more than $17 million nationwide. Funds are directed to research that leads to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for the mothers, daughters, sisters and friends who are fighting the disease.

Reading Buddies at the Toronto Humane Society

Class groups and families can participate in a program that pairs new readers with shelter animals who are only too willing to lend a helping paw to kids who want to increase their confidence and reading skills. Kids who love animals are helping them get more human interaction, which increases their adoptability. Win win! The family program currently takes place one Saturday morning per month.


Donate or serve food at your local food bank or shelter

Read to senior citizens in a chronic care facility or retirement home

Donate warm clothes, toys, school supplies, feminine hygiene products and other needed items to local organizations and women’s shelters

Help plant, water or weed a community garden

100 Kids Who Care

Part of the 100 Who Care Alliance, of which there are more than 500 chapters around the world, the kid-focused version encourages youth to make a difference in in simple, impactful ways. Adult mentors and collaboration with adult chapters help kids learn to mobilize and set priorities around the needs in their communities.


Earth Rangers

Bring Back the Wild birthday parties help kids raise funds and awareness for one of five threatened animals. Instead of buying gifts, family and friends donate to the birthday boy or girl’s campaign. Basic party kits can be downloaded for free and premium kits can be purchased for $13.99 and include five loot bags, tattoo sheets, balloons, sticker sheets, buttons and one poster.


If your kids aren’t ready to forego gifts altogether but you’re cringing at the thought of more stuff, consider helping them register for an Echoage birthday where kids pick something they really want, plus a charity they want to support. Custom e-vites are then sent to friends and family and guests can contribute online. After the party Echoage divides and distributes the funds raised for the child’s gifts and for the charity of his choice.


ME to WE

Consider asking your child’s teacher or school principal to make your school a “WE School.” As part of the ME to WE and WE Day movements, WE Schools help students develop life skills and make a positive impact on the world around them.

Because I Am A Girl

Girls can start a Champions of Change Club and help educate their friends on the importance of girls’ rights and gender equality in Canada and around the world. Clubs are youth-led and supported by an adult mentor.

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Author: Jen Millard

Jen Millard is a writer who's not afraid to say what everyone else is thinking about parenting and relationships. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram via @jennemillard or at

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