The Royal Family's charitable giving offers parents some great lessons to teach their children.
When Prince William addressed the Charity Commission last week, he demonstrated not only his own passion for charity work, but also the crucial role his family had in instilling in him and his brother, Prince Harry, “a lifelong habit to put charity at the heart of our lives” — something we can all pass on to our own children, even if we don’t have a title, a crown, or even a healthy bank account.
“Charity is not an optional extra in society … above anything else, charities nurture, repair, build and sustain our society,” he said. “Without the work that charities do, society would be an empty shell.”
Indeed, the modern Royal Family stands as an inspiration for our own charitable efforts. Princess Diana often visited the homeless, the sick, or sometimes the inspirational, with the young princes William and Harry in tow. William recounted his mother explaining “why the people I met there matter; why no society can be healthy unless we take other people seriously.”
The prince also described his father’s heavy involvement in charity work. Far from the glare of the public eye, Prince Charles spent many evenings “answering thousands of letters and reading endless reports in order to stay on top of his ambition to do all he could to help the underprivileged.” And let’s not forget Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, who are both heavily committed to hundreds of charitable causes.
William’s speech called on us the public to get involved in charitable causes any way we can, from ribbon wearing to charity auctions, taking part in fun-runs, helping out in soup kitchens. There are so many charities out there today, serving different groups of people — many the subject of opinion and division on social media, often without the objective facts, he said. This can sometimes hurt donations to certain groups of marginalized people.
So William has an idea. Along with his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, and William’s brother Prince Harry, the young generation of royals want to encourage people to “put their own self-interests aside” and “explore ways of combining forces, working and innovating together.” One example of this is their own charitable foundation Heads Together, which brings together various resources for those with mental health issues including veterans, youngsters, and the homeless. With all the funding under one roof it is easier to offer help to those whose problems may overlap.
Ways to bring charity to the heart of your own and your family’s life
Being charitable isn’t all about donating money to different causes. If you don’t have the funds to offer those in need then there are several ways for charity to become part of your everyday life:
1. First, teach your children the importance of charity. You can take them to retirement homes to spend time with the elderly, or take them to hospitals to read to sick kids. Or, more simply, if you have a neighbor who is housebound or alone, get your kids involved with helping them do chores. Although actions do often speak louder than words, take the time to explain to your children what you are doing, and why.
2. Get your children to sort through their toys and clothes with you. Help them to decide what to do with them, who the items may be suitable for. This is particularly meaningful for children at times of celebration, such as Christmas and birthdays, knowing that others will have little to celebrate.
3. Participate in local charity events when you can. We often involve ourselves with charities that our close to our hearts — those who’ve been affected by cancer are naturally inclined to support cancer causes. But how about getting involved with a charity that is raising funds for a cause you know little about? It’s always good to learn about those who are suffering in ways we can’t imagine.
4. We all know how time is precious, so giving up a precious Saturday morning to offer your skills, in accounting, in organizing, or even tea-making is a big ask. Nonetheless, charities often need hep with the support functions, preferably unpaid, so if you have a few hours free check with your local charities and churches to see if you can lend them a hand.
5. Remember to be grateful — not always easy during those off-days when everything is going wrong and we can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yet, if we think that there is always someone worse off than ourselves it helps put life in perspective. It’s our duty to instill in our kids a sense of gratitude and empathy, so they can truly learn that there are others in need who need our help.
6. Finally, a little prayer to St. Vincent de Paul, the patron saint of so many causes, including charity, would be most worthwhile.