New Study Says Parental Influence Impacts a Child’s Future Philanthropy

posted by Kristin Williamson

April 25, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

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Our children will be the next generation of everyday philanthropists. They’ll be the ones who ensure that the homeless are cared for, cancer research is funded, deserving students go to college. They will step up to make their world a better place because they’ve seen their parents do it. In fact, researchers have recently confirmed that our children are listenting to us – and their future charitable decisions are being shaped by what we do and say today.

Heart of the Donor, a study of how Americans interact with nonprofit organizations released this March, found that parental influence was a major factor in determining future charitable activities and nonprofit giving. Children whose parents modeled volunteering and philanthropy and/or talked about their reasons for charitable behavior are over 125 percent more likely to become involved philanthropically as adults. “Nonprofits can encourage today’s donors to talk to their children about giving and volunteering, model the behavior, and share the experience with them,” said Lisa McIntyre, who was an integral part of the study.  “The data clearly shows that when these things are done, it has a long-lasting effect on kids.”

Have you ever heard one of your young children repeating something you said? Maybe it was funny or cute; maybe it surprised you. Parenthood is punctuated by those occasional moments when it’s clear that our children have been watching and listening to us. Of course, if your child has entered double digits, those moments may seem more and more rare, but they do exist. Empowered by this knowledge, make the most of your parental influence. Next time you write a check to a local nonprofit or drop off a donation for Goodwill, look around for little ears. Can you have a conversation with your children about your personal motivations for charitable giving? They’re listening

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