Daughters emulate their parents more than sons when it comes to donations.
If you want your children to be charitable, show them how it’s done.
Donating money to charity makes it more likely that your children will grow up and do the same, a report released this month from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute in Indiana found. It showed the children of parents who do not give to charity are nearly 10% less likely to give than those whose parents do.
The study comes as charitable donations are on the rise in the U.S., with Americans donating $390.05 billion in 2016 — a 4.2% increase from 2015, according to Giving USA. Giving has been at a steady increase since the late 1970s, the nonprofit group found. Children of people who regularly volunteer also follow suit, said Melanie Ulle, chief executive officer of Denver consulting group Philanthropy Expert, LLC.
“There is no doubt in my mind that children of donors become donors themselves,” she said. “This has been consistent in our work with philanthropic families with great wealth, as well as those who are giving at a nominal level.” The study looked at giving for 3,700 adult children ages 19 to 65, including 1,935 women and 1,765 men.
There are some demographic differences in how exactly the tradition of giving transmits between generations. Daughters of parents who give to charity are more likely to carry on the tradition than sons, according to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In fact, 83% of girls whose parents are charitable donate themselves, versus 78% of boys. Meanwhile, 70% of girls whose parents do not give to charity donate themselves, but that same scenario is 75% for boys. Women in general donate more frequently and in higher amounts than men do.
Simply donating is not always enough to get your children to follow suit, Debra Mesch, the director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute said, and this is especially true for boys, who learn better through communication than by observing. Talking about regular donations increases the child’s giving by 20% over just showing by example alone, the study found.
When giving money to a homeless person on the street, tell your child privately of the tangible effects, she suggested. That is, say, “I am giving to this person because there are a lot of people in need in the world, and if we give them money they will be able to eat,” rather than saying something like “We have to give this money because it’s the right thing to do.’”
“You have to show the connection — it’s about showing the child there is an impact,” she said.