Nurturing Generosity in Children


The future of society may depend on our ability to make sure our children have the capability for empathy and the inclination toward generosity.

~Patricia O. Bjorhovde




Religious teachings have been highly influential in the development of philanthropic culture and giving practices around the world. Throughout American history, religious philanthropy has prompted social change by addressing the major issues and ills facing society of the times.

Congregations and faith communities fill an important role in today’s society by providing the worship and learning environments to convey the virtues and values of generosity, giving, stewardship and volunteer service. These communities provide a set of religious values and theological teachings to which young learners can link and reflect upon their daily lives. This is part of a our faith formation process as human beings, continuing throughout our lifetimes.

There are three key ways that children learn about generosity and stewardship:

  • Modeled voluntary behavior by a parent or trusted care-giver with the intention to help others. This begins in infancy, through the infant’s experience of caring and sharing which leads to the development of empathy.
  • Cognitive learning opportunities that include thinking, reflection, and discussion on the part of the learner. These stimulate understanding of the cause and effect of giving behavior.
  • Experiential “learning by doing” on the part of the learner—opportunities to engage in giving and serving activities from which they can draw emotional satisfaction and meaning.

How is this done?  Through an intentional educational process that includes:

  • Presenting the concepts and stories that promote understanding of giving, generosity, and stewardship in the life of a community.
  • Identifying the reasons why people choose to give and practicing generosity, and the methods for stewardship and the careful tending of resources.
  • Providing the experiences and opportunities for individual and communal reflection.

Nathan Dungan, former financial advisor, marketing VP, author and creator of the Share, Save, Spend system for personal finance suggests that the marketing message directed at our children is “see money, spend money,” with the emphasis on the micro impact  of satisfying their own needs. They rarely get the macro impact message that balances their spending with saving and sharing in intentional ways:  “the choices we make with our money can change the world.”

There are a variety of helpful materials to help parents and educators create learning experiences and activities that nurture generosity and stewardship in their children and teenage youth. Games and stories, combined with experiential activities to learn these values by doing, are particularly effective teaching tools. The Stewardship Game and links to online resources below offer a starting place for engaging this learning process.





Laurel Amabile, CFRE

Giving Speaks




Lodestone Year: Money Unit–Magnetize your Middle School  curriculum by Katie Covey focusing on ways to provide fun and as well as deep teachable moments. The Money Unit focuses on the value of conversations about money as an important part of understanding the control and power of money. With this understanding, commercialism is kept in perspective and money is used as a reflection of one’s values.

Stewardship Game for Unitarian Universalist Children & Youth created by Dr. Bobbie Poole, Credentialed Religious Educator, Master Level (shared with her permission). email:




Tapestry of Faith the Unitarian Universalist Association’s online curriculum series, particularly the Moral Tales for children and Virtue Ethics for youth. and

Learning To Give features learning and teaching resources to use for all ages, with focused materials for school educators and religious educators.

Share, Save, Spend founded by Nathan Dungan / The website features articles, tips, and resources for all ages, particularly useful for parents, educators, and organizations.

National Center for Family Philanthropy 

Bjorhovde, Patricia O., Editor.  Creating Tomorrow’s Philanthropists:  Curriculum Development for Youth New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising, #36, Summer 2002, Jossey-Bass Nonprofit and Public Management Series, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Developmental Stages of Generosity

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Organization’s Philanthropic Culture

Dollar Key Shows Banking Savings And Finance

 In a philanthropic culture all gifts given for the common good are valued, and all givers respected and affirmed. The emphasis should be on engaging the whole person in the common good that comes from their involvement in your organization.*

#1   Embrace Philanthropy—What it is, and What it does

Philanthropy is the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. The practice of giving money and time to help others is the heart of philanthropy. The word philanthropy comes from the Late Latin word philanthropia, from the Greek philein (to love) and Anthropos (humanity), and was first known to be used as a term in the early 1600’s.

Voluntary Action for the Public Good is one pithy way to understand that philanthropy is not simply fundraising for worthy causes, and it’s not the same as effective stewardship. It’s these essential practices and more. The central motivation for philanthropic giving is for the common good: to help make people’s lives and circumstances better. And, it is voluntary behavior, not to be taken for granted by any charitable organization.

#2   Form a Philanthropy Team—everyone is essential.

From the receptionist to the Executive Director, everyone on staff is a part of the team that creates the culture of philanthropy reflected in your organization.

If the first person your donor or volunteer encounters in your organization does not understand the importance of philanthropy, you could lose the support you count on to flourish. All those who are in contact with people should be trained in the basics of donor relations and how your organization is funded. If you depend heavily on individual donations, your staff and key volunteers should be well versed and equipped with information about your giving programs.

#3   Philanthropy Begins with the Leadership—100% participation and no less.

origami money heartWhen you assume a leadership role in an organization—particularly board leadership—you must demonstrate your commitment to the financial health of the organization. Every member of the board and financial leadership must make an annual contribution within their means. Every year.

If the organization is not worthy of its leadership’s generosity and support, how can you expect others to give?

#4   Conveying your organization’s mission, vision and values to inspire generosity and loyalty in the hearts of your supporters.

The development of your organization’s philanthropic culture increases your level of sustainability for the long haul. Your strongest supporters will be those who are passionate and committed to what your organization does to make a positive difference in the world.

Ideally, the return on investment in your organization will be the real impact that occurs in people’s lives and communities. If your mission and efforts don’t make a difference or have a positive impact you cannot expect the level of support you want.

#5   Express appreciation with sincerity and enthusiasm

When the organization is accountable to its donors and honors the intentions of their gifts, authentic, caring community is nurtured. Generosity should be celebrated and appreciation should be expressed by leaders in ways appropriate to each donor. Philanthropic culture grows when love of humanity and voluntary action for the common good are exemplified and affirmed as a value and practice of those involved in your organization.

As your organization becomes known for its philanthropic participation and culture, this builds trust and confidence in your organization, as well as its mission and programs.

Laurel Amabile portrait 2

Committed to helping great organizations flourish,

Laurel signature




Laurel Amabile, CFRE


Related Resources

*Collins, Mary Ellen. Essential Assets. Advancing Philanthropy, Winter 2015.  Association of Fundraising Professionals

Howlett, Susan. Boards on Fire! Word & Raby Publishing. 2010.  Boards on Fire

Payton, Robert L. Philanthropy: Voluntary Action for the Public Good. 

Generosity Fitness–a New Year Resolution for 2017!

Happy New Year text with cookies on the wooden background from aboveIt’s time to add Generosity Fitness to the list of our New Year Resolutions, for the spirit and expression of generosity enhances and deepens all the other aspects of life. Generosity matters.  It inspires giving and brings happiness to our lives.

This tradition of New Year Resolutions arose eons ago, inspired by the legend of the Roman god Janus, who is depicted with two faces. One of the faces of Janus looks to the past and the other to the future. The Romans believed Janus could forgive their transgressions, so they made offerings and promises at the beginning of each new calendar year.  Janus was believed to take notice of these gifts and bless the peoples’ lives for the year.  That’s where the month of January gets its name.

According to a recent NBC News poll based upon Google search terms most used in 2016, the Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 are:  Get Healthy, Get Organized, Live Life to the Fullest, Learn a New Hobbies, Spend Less/Save More, Travel, Read More. Not surprisingly, these resolutions are about improving one’s life through good health, learning and see new things, and effectively managing money and material possessions. Essentially, this boils down our drive to experience happiness.

A good deal of research has been conducted about the correlation between altruistic behavior and happiness.  Experiments have been conducted at various universities, including the use of brain scans that track the various pain and pleasure centers affected by altruistic behavior, such as charitable giving, helping others, and volunteer service.

OFireworksur pleasure centers light up not only when we receive money or kindness, but also when we give money away or help another out of compassion. Studies show that those who receive money are more likely to give money away, and in larger amounts than those who have not received money before being asked to give.

One Harvard Business School study looked more closely at the cause and effect relationship between giving and happiness.  Happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop (with happier people giving more, getting happier, and giving even more).

So, how might we fulfill our resolution for greater Generosity Fitness in 2017?

  • Make a commitment to a regular practice of giving and volunteering
  • Contribute the cost of your daily coffee to a cause that matters to you–or better yet, the cost of your monthly fitness or golf club membership!
  • A Month of daily acts of giving and kindness
  •  $5.20 or $52 per week for 52 weeks of the year given to your faith community or other worthy organizations
  • Sponsor a program or scholarship that will benefit to those in your community
  • Make a planned gift or bequest to a cause or organization that matters most to you
  • Organize a social fundraising event that brings people with common interests and a desire to make a difference in their community
  • Most of all, use your imagination.  Be creative.  Experience the joy of cultivating generosity in the world!

May this new year bring you many blessings and great abundance~ 

Laurel Amabile portrait 2   Laurel signature




References and Resources for this article:

Anik,  Aknin, Norton & Dunn.   Harvard Business School working paper, Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior.   2009.

Brooks, Arthur C. Who Really Cares.  Basic Books.  2006.

Chan, Amanda L. Huffington Post. 2013.  7 Science-back Reasons Why Generosity is Good for Your Health.

Firestone, Lisa. Huffington Post. 2014. The Benefits of Generosity.

Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior. Authors: Lalin Anik, Harvard Business School Lara B. Aknin, University of British Columbia Michael I. Norton, Harvard Business School Elizabeth W. Dunn, University of British Columbia

Smith, Jordan Michael. New Republic. Sept. 2014. Want to Be Happy? Stop Being So Cheap!


A Comprehensive List of Stewardship Resources

hands generosity

Books & Resources by UU Authors

UUA Bookstore has a wide variety of books on congregation financial planning, stewardship, annual canvass, environmental stewardship, and giving for all ages:

Clark, Wayne. Beyond Fundraising: A Complete Guide to Congregational Stewardship, UUA, 2007.  Available via UUA Bookstore, ISBN# 1-55896-523-8.

Durall, Michael. Creating Congregations of Generous People, Alban Institute, 1999.  UUA Bookstore item #7018.

Durall, Michael, Beyond the Collection Plate: Overcoming Obstacles to Faithful Giving, Abington Press.  UUA Bookstore item #7040.

Dwinell, Jane and Germann-Melosh, Ellen.  Big Ideas for Small Congregations: a friendly guide for leaders2007.  Spirit of Life Publishing, Montpelier, VT.  UUA Bookstore.

Ewert, Mark V. The Generosity Path. 2014. Skinner House Books. Unitarian Universalist Association.

Giving Speaks for UU congregations & organizations hosted by Laurel Amabile, CFRE.

Hauser, Aisha and Lawrence, Susan. Wonderful Welcome. Tapestry of Faith curriculum.  2008.

Heller, Anne Odin. Churchworks: A Well-Body Book for Congregations.

Henrickson, K. Peter. Financial Management in the Church, sixth edition. 2006.  Downloadable pdf version online:

Ohio-Meadville District, Stewardship Resources:

Scheyer, Fia and Lewellen-Dix, Ruth. The Joy of Giving. by 2000, UUA.  Online curriculum, for single document version.

Sweetser, Terry & Milnor, Susan. The Abundance of Our Faith. UUA, 2006   Available via UUA Bookstore item #7092.

Stewardship For Us website and blog by UU Stewardship consultants.

Thayer, Robert. Offerings:  Remarks on Passing the Plate. 2004, Skinner House, UUA Bookstore item #7193.

Turnip Video, Dramas to Provoke Generosity, CD with video and downloadable skits by UU fund-raising and stewardship campaigns.  Proceeds to benefit the Eno River UU Fellowship, Durham, NC,

The UU Small Group Ministry: For the outline for a “Stewardship” session developed for Roots and Wings Covenant Group at the Eno River UU Fellowship, Durham, NC:

UU University at GA 2009–Finding Our Common Wealth: Stewardship as Transformational , co-led by Rev. Cecilia Kingman and Rev. Jeanne Pupke.  DVD set A People So Bold available for purchase:

UU Curriculum Resources with Stewardship Themes 

Infante, Patricia Hall and Messner, David H. The Wi$dom Path: Money, Spirit, and Life. 2013. Unitarian Universalist Association. Tapestry of Faith series. Downloadable version:

Hauser, Aisha and Lawrence, Susan. Wonderful Welcome, Tapestry of Faith curriculum. Unitarian Universalist Association.

Scheyer, Fia and Lewellen-Dix, Ruth. The Joy of Giving.  2000. UUA.  Available online as a pdf download .

Ecumenical Stewardship Organizations & Online Resources

The Alban Institute, , (800) 964-2700 2121 Cooperative Way, Suite 100,  Herndon, VA  20171.  Alban Bookstore, Training programs, Consulting Services, and Research

Augsburg Fortress, , 1-800-328-4648

Center for Christian Stewardship (United Methodist Church) David Bell, Director, , 877-899-2780

Choose to Save, (all ages) website:

The Ecumenical Stewardship Center,

GIVING is an annual magazine publication of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center, an affordable resource for religious organizations.

Giving Speaks blog and website for UU congregations and organizations.

Learning to Give (all ages)   Note:  This website is chock full of resources for religious organization, educators, parents, children and youth, younger and older adults.  Included are a variety of interactive activities and numerous links to relevant sites and organizations.

Living the Good News and the Office of Stewardship at the Episcopal Church Center, Growing A Grateful, Generous Heart, 2003, Living the Good News ( , 800-824-1813),  ISBN #1-931-960-15-1.

Make It Simple: A Resource for Stewardship Education and Annual Response (online with downloadable resource, using a Christian framework), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,

Moonjar (all ages)  A program of  saving, sharing, and spending that features special boxes with three compartments for each. Links to the Seattle Foundation resources for children and parents found at:

Save Share Spend, Nathan Dungan, Founder, website:

The Search-Institute (Lutheran) Searchable website with a wide range of resources, including the topics of stewardship.

Stewardship for Life (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)

Stewardship Books for Congregation Leaders

Barna, George.  How to Increase Giving in Your Church.  1997.  Regal Books, Ventura, CA.

Blanchard, Ken and Cathy, S. Truett, The Generosity Factor, 2002, Zondervan.  ISBN #0-310-24660-1.  A parable based on biblical principles of personal stewardship for those who sense there is more to life than getting more.

Branson, Mark Lau.  Memories, Hopes and Conversations:  Appreciative Inquiry and Congregational Change, ISBN# 1-56699-288-5  Alban.

Callahan, Kennon L. Giving and Stewardship in an Effective Church:  A Guide for Every Member. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990.

Christopher, J. Clif. Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate: a New Vision for Financial Stewardship. 2008. Abingdon Press.

Christopher, J. Clif. Rich Church, Poor Church: Keys to Effective Financial Ministry. 2012. Abingdon Press.

Christopher, J. Clif. The Church Money Manual: Best Practices for Finance and Stewardship. 2014. Abingdon Press.

Central East Regional Group (CERG) Including the link to the webinar series Putting Your Money Where Your Heart Is: New Ideas in Stewardship. The webinar uses the book Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate by J. Clif Christopher, for which a UU study guide has been created:

Gary, Tracey, and Kohner, Melissa. Inspired Philanthropy:  Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Giving Plan,  2nd edition. 2002, Jossey-Bass.  ISBN:  0-7879-6410-7

Growing A Grateful, Generous Heart is a curriculum set which includes a Leader Guide, Parent/Family Resource, and booklets for children in four different age groupings.  The basic message is that of biblical stewardship, with engaging and age-appropriate activities and easy-to-follow format.

Jeavons, Thomas H., and Rebekah Burch Basinger. Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000.

Johnson, Janice, FCBA, and Swint, Ruben. Weaving Our Lives Together:  A Stewardship Program For Your Congregation. 2004,  NACBA Press, Richardson, TX, (800) 898-8085, ,  ISBN: 9705433-6-0.

Kessel, Brent. It’s Not About the Money, Harper One, HarperCollins.  NY.  2008.  ISBN: 978-0-06-123406-4.

Outlines a new path of financial and personal growth based on insights from the          world’s spiritual and wisdom traditions.  Features eight financial archetypes to help readers understand their own financial habits, and exercises to transform one’s financial life from the inside out.

Malphurs, Aubrey and Stroope, Steve. Money Matters in Church.  2007.  Baker Books.ISBN: 10: 0-8010-6627-1.

This is a practical guide for congregation leaders with tips for strategic budgeting, stewardship and special campaign organization, effective income projections, expense tracking, and auditing processes.  Draws upon biblical theology and current practices.

O’Hurley-Pitts, Michael. The Passionate Steward: Recovering Christian Stewardship from Secular Fundraising. Toronto, ON: St. Brigid Press, 2001.

Roehlkepartain, Naftali, and Musegades. Growing Up Generous:  Engaging Youth in Giving and Serving, ISBN: 1-56699-238-9, available through Alban Bookstore.

Robertson, C. K.  Transforming Stewardship.  The Episcopal Church of the 21st Century.  Church Publishing, NY.  2009.  ISBN #970-0-89869-607-3.

Ryan, M.J. The Giving Heart, 2000, Conari Press, ISBN # 1-57324-521-6

Ryan, M.J. The Grateful Heart, 1994, Conari Press, ISBN #0-943233-84-4.

Wright, Lauren Tyler. Giving—the Sacred Art. Skylight Paths Publishing, Woodstock, VT.  2008.   ISBN:  978-1-59473-224-9.

Practical tips and inspiring thoughts for living a life of abundance and spirit-filled generosity.  Giving as worship; giving as stewardship; giving as charity; and giving as justice are the topics.  NOTE:  For the UU Study Guide for use with Giving—the sacred art,

Zech, Charles E. Best Practices in Parish Stewardship, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division.  2008.  ISBN:  978-1-59276-492-1.

Sources of Readings, Prayers, and Meditations for Worship

The Worship Web, UUA online resource, featuring Worship Resource for a Troubled Economy,

Stories for the UUA’s Tapestry of Faith Curriculum Series:

Books on Giving and Generosity for Parents and Religious Educators

Bjorhovde, Patricia O., Editor. Creating Tomorrow’s Philanthropists: Curriculum Development for Youth, New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising, Number 36, Summer 2002, sponsored by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Jossey-Bass.  ISBN:  0-7879-6435-2

Edelman, Marian Wright. The Measure of Our Success, 1992, Beacon Press, Boston.  Harper Collins (paperback).  ISBN # 0-06-097546-6.

A mother’s message to her sons and other people’s children in the form of twenty-five lessons for life as moral, caring individuals.  This is also good reading for teen youth and young adults.

Heiss, Renee. Helping Kids Help, 2007, Zephyr Press, , ISBN # 978-1-56976-211-0

This book provides adult mentors with ideas for helping children and youth organize successful charitable projects, to evaluate which charities to support, team-building, and real stories.

Price, Susan Crites. The Giving Family: Raising Our Children to Help Others, 2005, Council on Foundations.  ISBN # 0-913892-99-8.

This book offers dozens of simple family activities to engage children of any age in learning the value of giving their time, talents, money to people and causes that matter.

Roehlkepartain, Eugene C., Naftali, Elanah Dalyah, and Musegades, Laura. Growing Up Generous:  Engaging Youth in Giving and Serving, 2000, Alban Institute,  ISBN # 1-56699-238-9.

This book provides the principles and practices to help youth develop generosity and service to others as ways of life.

Weisman, Carol. Raising Charitable Children, 2006, F. E. Robbins & Sons Press.  ISBN #0-9767972-0-8

An easy-to-read practical guide for parents seeking to introduce their children to charitable giving and volunteering.

Zirkel, Annie M.  You’ll Thank Me Later, 2009. AZ is Publishing.  ISBN: 978-0-615-32777-8

A resource for parents (and religious educators) to help nurture generosity, gratitude, and optimism within themselves and in their children.

Books on Giving and Generosity for Children, Youth, and All Ages

Brumbeau, Jeff and de Marken, Gail. The Quiltmaker’s Gift. 2000, Orchard Books (Scholastic, Inc), ISBN #0-439-30910-7.

This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of a generous quilt-maker who finally agrees to make a quilt for a greedy king, but only under certain conditions. In the end, she causes the king to undergo a change of heart.

Cooney, Barbara. Miss Rumphius. Puffin Books ISBN: 0140505393

The story of Miss Alice Rumphius—known as the “Lupine Lady”– who grew up hearing the stories of her beloved grandfather and decided upon three things she wanted to do: to see faraway places, to return and live by the sea, and to make the world more beautiful.

DiSalvo-Ryan, DyAnne. City Green. 1994, Scholastic Books.  ISBN # 0-590-62218-8.

Set in an urban setting with multicultural illustrations, this is a story of a girl who sets about transforming a vacant lot into a community garden, inspiring her neighbors to take part in its creation and upkeep.

DiSalvo-Ryan, DyAnne, Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen. 1991, William Morrow & Co. Inc. ISBN # 9-780688-091651.

A boy spends the day with his uncle in the soup kitchen, preparing and serving food for the hungry in his local area.

Fine, Edith Hope, Under the Lemon Moon. 1999, Lee & Low Books.  ISBN# 1-58430-051-5

A story set in Mexico featuring a young girl who learns about compassion, justice, and the power of forgiveness.

Flikkema, Elizabeth, Make the World a Better Place:  My Sharing Time, Talent and Treasure Activity Book. 2005, Learning to Give Press, Muskegon, MI.  ISBN # 0-9774155-0-3.

The central character to this activity book is an ant, nicknamed Ant Phil. Ant Phil teaches young people about philanthropy through engaging activities, language, and stories.

Forsyth-Vail, Gail. Stories in Faith. 2007, UUA, Boston.  ISBN # 1-55896-528-9.

Wisdom tales drawn from many cultures and traditions are presented in a framework of the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism and its six sources of faith. It is designed as a resource for parents, religious educators, ministers and seekers, and offers ways to use the stories in multigenerational settings.

Garwood, Galen. Panom: And the Stone of Light. 2011.  Marrowstone Press.  ISBN # 97806154412.

Based on a Buddhist tale about a great elephant matriarch and her interactions with human beings that lead to greater understanding, generosity, and appreciation of the natural world.

Hughes, Shirley. Giving. 1993, Candlewick Press. Cambridge, MA. ISBN #1-56402-129-7.

This story book is for young children, featuring behaviors of giving and sharing among family, friends, and in community.

Hutchins, Pat.  The Doorbell Rang. 1986, Mulberry Books, NY, ISBN 978-0-688-09234-4.

Ma has made a dozen delicious cookies.  It should be plenty for her two children.  But then the doorbell rings—and rings and rings and rings.  Great message about generosity and sharing for young children.

McCloud, Carol. Have You Filled A Bucket Today? 2006.  Ferne Press.  ISBN# 978-0-9785075-1-0.

A colorful book for children that encourages positive behavior by expressing kindness, appreciation, love, and generosity in their daily interactions.

McPhail, David. Mole Music. Henry Holt and Co.  ISBN:  0805067663

A little mole living underground decides to learn to play violin.  As he does so the mole’s music is heard above ground and without his knowing, influences and transforms those above who hear it.

Moore, Mary Ann. Hide & Seek with God. 1994, Skinner House Books, Boston.  ISBN# 1-55896-277-8.

God comes alive in a variety of multicultural, non-sexist forms—as transcendent mystery, the mother and father of life, peace and silence, light and darkness, and more.  This book offers stories for young and old that speak to God as a source of abundance and life’s blessings.

Muth, Jon. Stone Soup. 2003, Scholastic Books, New York, ISBN# 0-439-33909-X

A story for all ages with lovely Asian watercolor illustrations, the author retells this familiar old trickster tale, combining his love for Zen Buddhism and Eastern culture in celebrating the power of generosity.

Pfister, Marcus. The Rainbow Fish. 1992, North-South Books, NY.  ISBN #1-55858-009-3

The story of a beautiful fish that learns to make friends by sharing his most prized possessions—his shimmering scales.

Pinkwater, Daniel Manus. The Doodle Flute, 1991, MacMillan Publishing,  ISBN# 0027746356.

A story of two boys–one with the only doodle flute around and one who wants to have one—come to an agreement on how to best share this special item.

Polacco, Patricia. Chicken Sunday. 1992, Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, New York.  ISBN# 0-698-11615-1.

Based on the author’s childhood experience, this moving story promotes an appreciation of diversity and generosity.

Rogers, Fred. The Giving Box. 2000,  Running Press Book Publishers.        ISBN # 0-7624-0825-1.

Beginning with a message to parents, this book contains folktales and fables that illustrate giving and generosity.  In addition, there are activities for families, including the practice of the “Giving Box.”

Rosewood, Olivia. Gratitude Soup. 2009, self published.  ISBN#  1448681286.

A collage style book for children and their parents/caregivers to offer ideas for creating their own gratitude art.

Ryan, DyAnne DiSalvo. City Green.  HarperCollins.  ISBN: 068812786X

A young girl sees a vacant lot in her community and sets about the process of transforming the lot into a community park for all to enjoy.

Sabin, Ellen. The Giving Book: Open the Door to a Lifetime of Giving. 2004. Watering Can Press.  ISBN # 0-9759868-0-5.

Written as a workbook for children in the primary grades, provides a fun way to learn about generosity, to identify the causes they care about, and to discover ways to give and to keep a record of their giving.  NOTE: This books may not be perceived as inclusive to all socio-economic groups and may require balancing messages about “helping others” to be inclusive of diverse educational, family, income backgrounds.

Sage, James. The Little Band.  Scholastic.  ISBN:  0590462369

A little band that parades through town, making positive changes along the way.

Sandman, Rochel. As Big as an Egg: Story About Giving. 1995. Hachai Publishing. ISBN: 978-0-922613-77-9

Bubbe Hinda stands near the bread-line collecting food for the sick during WWII.  She never knew about her mitzvah helper, Chaim, who learned in mysterious ways the importance of giving to others, as Bubbe Hinda’s example showed.

Shea, Pegi Deitz. The Carpet Boy’s Gift. 2003, Tilbury House, Gardiner, ME.  ISBN:  13978-0-88448-249-9

Yearning for freedom and schooling for himself and the other children who toil in a carpet factory in Pakistan to repay loans from the factory owner to their parents, Nadeem is inspired by a former carpet boy named Iqbal to lead the way.

Schwartz, David M. If You Made A Million. 1989, Mulberry Books                ISBN #0-688-13634-6.

This book describes the various forms money can take—coins, paper, personal checks—and how it can be used to make purchases, pay off loans, or build interest in the bank.

Stafford, Anika. Aisha’s Moonlit Walk. 2005, Skinner House Books, Boston, MA.  ISBN# 1-55896-485-1

This book features eight stories and seasonal celebrations of the pagan year.  This book lends itself to stewardship of the earth and giving/receiving/gratitude.

Steptoe, John. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. Amistad. ISBN: 0688040454

A story set in Africa about Mufaro and his two beautiful daughters—one selfish and mean and the other kind and generous.

Williams, Betsy Hill, Editor. UU and Me Collected Stories. 2003, UUA, Skinner House Books, Boston, MA  ISBN:  1-55896-455-X

This book is a collection of 26 stories featured in the uu&me! magazine series provide a rich source of stories that promote generosity, service, and caring for our earth and its creatures.

Williamson, Nancy S. 52 Ways to Teach Stewardship 1999, Rainbow Books, San Diego, CA.  ISBN #1-885358-16-4.

This activity book is designed for ages 4-12 and teaches the concepts of Biblical Stewardship through a series of 52 activities.  The authors grant permission to copy the activity pages for classroom use.

Zeiler, Frederika. A Kid’s Guide to Giving. 2006, published by innovativeKids.  ISBN # 978-1-58476-489-2.

Written and published by the time she was twenty years old, Zeiler researched and listed a variety of worthy organizations under the categories of people, animals, and the environment.  This book includes inspirational stories about young people and their expressions of generosity.

Activities and Practices that Foster Generosity in Children and Youth

  • Worship experiences with opportunities for children and youth to contribute in the offertory, to assume leadership roles in the service, tell their stories, play music, and share their joys and concerns.
  • Opportunities to volunteer in meaningful ways in congregational service activities and multigenerational events.
  • Create leadership roles and training experiences for children and youth to      contribute their skills and talents.
  • Take the time to educate children and youth in the rights and responsibilities of      membership, including ways that they can appropriately contribute financially as well as in service to the congregation and wider association.
  • Give children and youth a voice in the budgetary and financial decisions that      concern them.  This may include decisions around contributing part of the offering to a social justice cause, fund-raising opportunities, youth group budget line.
  • Tell the stories of the ways Unitarian Universalism and the congregation has made a difference in your life and in the wider world.  Model generosity of spirit and giving.
  • Worship or program leaders has a stack of crisp new dollar bills, one per child.  Engage the children in conversation about different ways we get money (earn it, save it, receive it as a gift), and the things we do with it. Then play a game:  give the children a chance to earn a dollar by playing.  With two volunteers, hold one dollar up vertically and let it drop toward one’s outstretched finger & thumb. You need fast reflexes to catch it! If you catch it, you keep it! After a couple of practice demonstrations, pass out the dollars bills for the children to try in pairs. After everyone has a chance to play, there is a new round. Give each child a dollar      and invite them to think about what they would do with their dollar. Would they spend it, save it, or give it away? Follow up with the children in a couple of weeks to ask them what they chose to do with the dollar they were given.
  • The Unitarian Fellowship of Houston kicks off their campaign with a green luncheon, and the children make a dish to contribute. Green fruit salads (grapes, honeydew,  kiwi, granny smith apples with a lime-thyme dressing) and guacamole deviled eggs have been especially appreciated. The elementary-aged children take the offering as ushers (yes, in “big church”)  every Sunday.
  • Morristown, NJ puts together little envelopes with a colored label with the word’s “Children’s Offering.”    The children are given the envelopes when they enter the sanctuary and they put money into the collection basket every Sunday.  The Treasurer keeps track and sends the DRE weekly reports about how much money the children have given.  There is a growing sense of ownership among the children in contributing to their Fellowship.  At one time our children left before the offertory, but now they participate by giving.  It’s such a good thing.                                                                                                                

Unitarian Universalist Giving Opportunities for All Ages

  • Giving and Generosity section of the UUA website: for a variety of planned and Legacy giving programs, congregational, and individual giving opportunities.
  • Friends of the UUA individual giving:
  • UU Partner Church Council:, supporting Unitarian Universalists around the world.  Congregations may contribute funding to support partner churches in Khasi Hills, India, the Philippines, and Transylvania.
  •  Natalie Gulbrandsen Ministerial Scholarship Fund
  •  The Living Tradition Fund: provides scholarships and financial assistance to ministers and seminarians.
  • Church of the Larger Fellowship:, our virtual congregation, linking UUs around the world through publications, audio, and religious education programs. To contribute to CLF:
  •  LREDA Endowment Fund:
  •  UU Service Committee:, this is the organization that sponsors the “Guest at Your Table” program of individual giving.  The UU Service Committee has a number of other service projects to support.
  • The Sienna Project:  Building Schools in Guatemala.  This non-profit organization is a living memorial to Sienna Lavanhar.  The Sienna Project is connected to the Religious Education Program of the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, New Jersey.  For more information:  or email:
  • Chalice Lighters—Check the UUA website to find the district your congregation is part of to sign up as one of your region’s Chalice Lighters.  These are smaller donations made three or four times a year in support of congregations in your district/region.