By: Willow Welter   |   Posted: November 22, 2023

You want to raise children who speak up for those whose voices often go unheard. But many kids don’t know what advocacy means. So where do you start? Here are some practical ideas to inspire and equip the children and teenagers in your life to speak up for others.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Advocacy

You want to raise children who speak up for those whose voices often go unheard. But many kids don’t know what advocacy means. So where do you start? Here are some practical ideas to inspire and equip the children and teenagers in your life to speak up for others.

Written by Willow Welter
A woman site with three children as she reads the Bible to them.

As editor of Compassion Explorer Magazine for kids, I hear from parents and grandparents who are grateful for a tool that inspires their kids to speak up for those in poverty. But many of you are looking for even more ideas and resources for teaching your kids about advocacy in a way they understand. Maybe you’re a grandparent looking to leave a legacy of your Christian faith.

We want to help. So here are ideas, advice and resources to help you as you strive to raise children and teenagers who use their voices to speak up for others.


For many children, simply learning about poverty is enough to inspire them to spread the word about it. Their natural empathy will kick in when they learn that some kids don’t have enough food, safe water or medicine.

But it’s hard to know how to talk to children about poverty. It’s a complex problem, but younger kids will relate to the most simple, tangible descriptions. For example, you could say, “Poverty means not having everything you need to be healthy and happy.” Then go on to describe some tangible things that people living in poverty lack: food, safe water, education, safe housing and medicine.

To help you dive deeper into specific issues of poverty with children, Compassion created these lesson plans. They cover the following topics for elementary-age kids:

  • Hunger.
  • Health.
  • School.
  • Faith.
  • Worry.

Each has related activities, talking points and memory Bible verses. Even if you don’t have time to sit down with the kids in your life and do a whole lesson, you can read through the plans to get the main ideas.

You can also learn more about poverty with your kids using our interactive world map of countries where Compassion works. You’ll learn fun facts, see photos and find out about poverty issues specific to each country.

To encourage your child toward advocacy, you could suggest they talk about what they learn with their friends. And you could ask them to think of ideas for raising money to help a cause they care about (more on that later).

Get Comfortable Speaking

Advocacy — public support for a cause — doesn’t always involve talking or giving a big speech. For adults, it might mean canvassing for signatures on a petition or sharing information on social media. For kids, it might mean speaking up in class or telling shoppers why they should buy cookies and support their scout troop.

But no matter how or why the advocacy is taking place, it’s usually helpful to get comfortable speaking in front of people. And that might be a family effort. Here are some ideas for helping your kids feel comfortable sharing what they believe:

  • Do an internet search to see whether there’s a public-speaking course for kids held in your area. Some courses might be offered totally online, and your family could participate together.
  • Enroll your child or whole family in a theater program. That might mean drama class at school or the community theater.
  • Ask your pastor to meet with your family and talk about what it’s like to give sermons in front of your church family.
  • If your child or teenager is musically inclined, joining a choir or band can help them get comfortable sharing their knowledge and talents in front of people.


To solidify your words and lessons, involve your family in service projects and help your child organize fundraisers. This teaches children to emulate Jesus by loving their neighbors and showing kindness.

Service Projects

Take your children to places they’ll be able to meet and serve their neighbors. Before and after your service projects, talk about why your kids want to do it. Why is it important to them to serve their neighbors? If they need inspiration, read some Bible verses about helping others.

Your church staff probably has several ideas for family service projects in your community. But here are some places you could volunteer as a family:

  • Food bank.
  • Church.
  • Animal shelter or zoo.
  • Soup kitchen.
  • Children’s hospital.

For more ideas, check out author Mark Scandrette’s great guest article on practical ideas for raising compassionate kids.

When your family goes into the community to serve, your children will naturally become advocates. They’ll get to talk to their neighbors, and afterward they’ll be excited to tell their friends what they did and — more importantly — why they did it.

A group of children sit at a table outside of a house where they are hosting a bake sale.
A young girl holds bracelets that she sells to help fundraise.


I love hearing and sharing about children blessed with resources who want to help their brothers and sisters living in less-resourced countries. These compassionate kids come up with classic and innovative ways to raise money to help kids in poverty.

No matter what cause your child cares most about, they’ll be inspired when they read about kids like them who host successful fundraisers. Here are some types of fundraisers children have organized over the years to raise money for kids in Compassion’s program:

  • Lemonade stands.
  • Hot chocolate stands.
  • Bake sales.
  • Small businesses selling baked goods, artwork, crafts or jewelry.
  • Ice cream socials.
  • Plant sales.
  • Cooking classes.
  • Garage sales.

Since hosting a fundraiser requires spreading the word, kids naturally become advocates when they’re planning and hosting one!

For more inspiration and fundraiser ideas for kids, read about the caring kids we’ve featured in our children’s magazine over the years.


Another way to talk to your kids about advocacy is by hosting a Compassion Sunday event together. Parents have been involving their kids in this annual church event for years, so last year we decided to create a whole bundle of resources just for kids and families who host a Compassion Sunday event as a team.

If you’re not familiar with Compassion Sunday, it’s a day when churches across the U.S. learn about Compassion’s mission to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. People like you share their heart for the cause and set up a table where other church members can visit and sponsor a child. What’s really cool is, on average, more children get sponsored at events that are hosted by a kid and an adult rather than just an adult alone.

a young girl stands in front of a microphone

Some kids don’t even have an adult stand up with them to share at church. Grace, pictured above, was only 9 when she hosted her first Compassion Sunday event at her family’s church in Washington state. She stood up by herself in front of her church and shared why her family sponsors children through Compassion. She hosted another event the following year. Her younger brother, Alex, helped with the behind-the-scenes work for each event. Thanks to Grace and Alex’s advocacy on the two Sundays, 56 children in poverty were connected with sponsors.

I recently spoke with their father, Justin, to get his secrets for raising compassionate kids who advocate for children in poverty.

'Part of it comes down to providing that encouragement that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can make a difference,' Justin says.

He says that if he were to speak in front of the congregation, he might get a few people to really pay attention. “But get a 9-year-old up there, and people are immediately captivated. I can’t own a room like that.”

When Compassion realized that kids were interested in hosting Compassion Sunday events, we created special resources for them and their families to host as a team. As kids work through the free Planning and Activity Journal we send potential hosts, they open the door for family conversations about poverty and advocacy. And the guide we send them has everything a family needs to know about hosting a Compassion Sunday event at church.

We’d love to send you a Planning and Activity Journal in the mail so you can learn more. There’s no obligation to host an event afterward. Just let us know where to send it if you’re interested!


Justin says that raising young advocates is about more than just talking to your kids. It’s also about modeling the behavior you want to inspire in them. For example, he and his wife, Carrie, always set aside “God money” — part of their income designated for the offering, charitable giving and spontaneous acts of kindness.

“As the kids got older, we started talking to them about the God money. And we don’t do it to make noise or so anyone can see it, but we try to be intentional in telling our kids, ‘Hey, this is why we did what we did. It’s God’s money, we’re just called to be good stewards of it,” Justin says.

“It’s how we think of raising kids too: They’re God’s kids, we’re just trying to provide for them the best that we can.”

So when Grace, now 15, or their son, 13-year-old Alex, earn money from babysitting or other odd jobs, Justin and Carrie encourage them to set some aside as God money. They save it for when they feel inspired to give it away, like donating to a school-supply or winter-clothing drive at school.

If your family sponsors a child, Justin recommends involving your own kids in the letter writing process, praying for the child in poverty, and remembering them by hanging their picture up as “a constant reminder that the world is much bigger than just the four walls of our house.”

Justin’s also passionate about trusting that children can do more than we think they can. “It talks about it in the Bible: ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,’” Justin says, citing 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV). “So let’s not look down on our kids. Let them rise to the challenge.”

Sometimes, he says, you need to get out of your kids’ way and let them lead. But first, “We need to teach our kids where to look and listen for ways they can make an impact.”


Our final idea for how to talk to your kids about advocacy is one we mentioned above: reading Compassion’s magazine for children. Aimed primarily at ages 6 to 10, Compassion Explorer Magazine inspires and equips children to advocate for their neighbors living in poverty by providing joy-filled, curiosity-provoking, educational content.

The magazine is free for people who sponsor a child or donate through Compassion. It features fun, educational content like:

  • Recipes from around the world.
  • Family devotionals.
  • Stories of kids living in poverty.
  • Crafts.
  • Puzzles.
  • Games and other activities.

And we recently added a special advocacy section to the Compassion Explorer website. It has ideas, stories, shareable graphics and activities designed to inspire young people to speak up for their neighbors who live in poverty.

You can access all the fun content in the online edition now! Or you can subscribe to the quarterly print edition of Compassion Explorer Magazine in one of two ways:

I truly hope these teaching resources, ideas and advice from parents of compassionate kids and teenagers will help you talk to your kids about advocacy. Thank you for wanting to raise kids who will make this world a kinder place!

Family Advocacy Ideas

A young child kisses her sibling as the mother watches and smiles

Love your neighbors by exploring ways to speak up for them.

A young child kisses her sibling as the mother watches and smiles