Involve Your Kids in Charitable Giving


A new study shows that kids have no clue about their parent’s charitable giving tendencies. That’s bad news, as the next generation of givers doesn’t have the knowledge (or inclination) to keep the less needy firmly and financially in sight. How can parents turn the tables? By creating a healthier charitable giving climate for the young.

Sure, the older you are, the more money you have to give to charity. A recent study by Edge Research reveals exactly that, but also notes that the habits of future charity givers depend on what they see their parents and grandparents give. As the Edge Research Data shows, that explains the clear upward path of generational giving:

Demographic    Average $ to Charity    Avg. Number of Charities

Gen Y        $341                3.6

Gen X        $796                4.2

Boomers        $901                5.2

Matures        $1,066                6.3               

There’s also another, more disturbing poll out there, one that shows the younger generation (kids 16 and under) are “clueless” about their parents’ charitable giving.

The study, conducted by (Northwest Mutual’s Foundation’s personal financial Web site) says that a staggering majority of kids are “not aware of their [parents] giving at all” or say they “know my parents give back, but I’m not sure how or to whom.” Both responses come from 77% of survey respondents, the company says.

But there’s a clue in the survey that can help parents get their children more involved in charitable giving – or at least set them so they’re aware of it down the road. says that 23% of survey respondents said they were aware of charitable giving “if my parents talk about the organizations and causes they support.”

“Kids who are taught about the importance of giving as well as budgeting responsibly for giving are better prepared to secure their own financial futures,” says Northwestern Mutual Senior Vice President Meridee Maynard. “It appears that parents aren’t proactively modeling and discussing their giving strategies, which would be a great learning opportunity for their children.”

“Parents have good charitable intentions, but if they don’t discuss them with their kids, a valuable learning opportunity is lost,” adds Maynard. “Planning how to give is just as important as the planning that goes into saving, spending and investing. These are early learnings that can help young people become financially savvy adults.”

Maynard has some helpful pointers that can get families pointed in a more altruistic direction. All it takes is some sound advice on money and digging up those passions that could interest kids later in life.

•    Involve kids in conversations about your charitable giving.

•    Develop giving goals as a family.

•    Choose a charity to financially support as a family. Model – and explain – how the family will budget to meet that giving goal.

•    Show kids that money isn’t just for spending. Use a four-bank system for saving, spending, investing and giving.

•    Encourage kids to develop realistic personal giving goals to support a cause they believe in.

•    Explain to teens the concept of tax benefits related to charitable contributions.

The gist of the two studies? Kids know what they know, and don’t know what they don’t know. If they see, talk and hear about their parents’ charitable giving, they'll be more likely to follow suit. If they remain in the dark, the spigot can tragically run dry when those kids grow up.

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