It’s everyone’s favourite time of year: pumpkin spice season! Lattes, beer, lip gloss, car air fresheners—you name it, there’s a version with nutmeg, cinnamon, and potassium sorbate.
Also around the corner: Halloween, a night of spookiness and fun mostly known for the mass acquisition of treats. Parents spend a significant amount of money on candy: 2017 Halloween spending is expected to reach a record-breaking $9.1 billion in the United States.
Kids consume huge amounts of sugar even in the face of mounting evidence that it is essentially toxic. Many adults in Canada will fondly remember UNICEF’s attempt, over 60 years ago, to redirect the spirit of Halloween with their orange box campaign, in which trick-or-treaters were encouraged to collect spare change on their evening adventures.
The program was based largely on the efforts of teachers, who were responsible for collecting, counting and mailing in rolled coins. It was an effort that became impractical with the changing times and declining value of a nickel; the program was shuttered in Canada in 2006.
So what can you do to take some of the negative things about Halloween and, for your kids, put a more socially constructive spin on the holiday?
Start a Conversation
Halloween is a time of plenty for many families, making it an opportunity to discuss with your kids the fact that some people don’t have enough. Even though it’s fun to dress up and collect as much candy as possible, kids can easily understand how Halloween-style abundance does not necessarily apply across the board.
Giving to charity is a great way to alleviate some of the inequalities we experience locally, nationally, and around the world. UNICEF and the school system used to do a lot of the legwork explaining this to our children, but the task increasingly lands on parents to instil in kids the importance of giving back.
Start a Giving Group
Once you’ve talked to your kids, the next step is easy.
When you have an account with CHIMP, you’ve got the option of starting a CHIMP Giving Group. Many people use Giving Groups to fundraise with friends and colleagues, but they’re also a useful tool for organizing your family’s giving.
Your CHIMP account acts as a donor-advised fund (DAF), which is a charitable giving vehicle. When you put assets in it, they’re earmarked for charity, and you get a tax receipt.
A Giving Group is similar to that—a fund to which you can transfer money from your CHIMP account, where you can earmark it for a specific cause of your choice.
When you set up a Giving Group with your family, and choose a cause you’d like to support, you commit to making a positive change in the world. Talk to your kids to learn what they care about most. Is it animal welfare, or environmental protection? Or would they like to help other kids, in a different part of the world, get the food, medicine and shelter we so often take for granted here?
You can use your Giving Group as a way to reward good Halloween season behaviour. Some parents will let their kids trade candy for charity dollars—lowering their sugar intake, while helping them engage socially with a cause.
Another option is to involve their friends. A Halloween party where everyone stuffs themselves on candy apples, but also contributes to a cause, can be a great way to involve other parents and their kids.
Go Beyond Halloween
Once you’ve transferred the money raised during your Halloween fundraising from the Group to your charity of choice, there’s no need to abandon the Giving Group.
You can repurpose the Giving Group to use for another occasion—the holiday season, for instance.
To change the name of your group, so it’s holiday-appropriate:
- Log in to CHIMP
- Click on your profile icon in the upper right corner of your screen.
- From the drop-down menu, select Giving Tools.
- Select Giving Groups.
- From the list, select your Halloween group.
- On the toolbar at the top of your page, select Edit Group.
- Click on Basic Settings
- Enter the new name of your group in the text box labelled Group Name.
You can change other settings, such as the Group description and image, from the Edit Group page (Step 6).
Think of Halloween as an opportunity to get started with your family’s Giving Group—one that keeps on giving, according to the occasion and your goals.
Spread the Word
Ask your kids to find out what matters to their classmates. Talk to teachers about what the curriculum offers and choose a cause that complements it. Once you’ve picked a cause, you’re on your way.
One of the most useful features of the Giving Group is the ability to invite members to the group; send your Halloween party invites via your Giving Group for maximum impact.
To learn more about ways you can make your Group a runaway hit, check out our article, How to Boost Your CHIMP Giving Group