Raising Your Child to Embrace Generosity

Freebie Friday — this week, encouraging children to live a life full of generosity…

It turns out, parents have a HUGE impact on whether children continue to give into their adult years, according to a new study conducted by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in partnership with the United Nations Foundation.

But the question is… how do parents make the biggest impact?

Role modeling alone—defined in this study as parents giving to charity—isn’t as effective, the research found. Parents who want to raise charitable children should talk with them throughout childhood and adolescence about their own philanthropy. Following up those conversations with hands-on opportunities is valuable, too.

Conversation about philanthropy is important. And also, the content of the conversation is important as well:

“Telling a child, ‘You should give to charity because it’s the right thing to do’ doesn’t have as much of an impact as saying, ‘Giving to a homeless shelter will help provide food for homeless people, and they’ll be able to eat and be a little happier because they’re not hungry all the time,’” says Debra Mesch, Ph.D., director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. “Describing for children how their charity can change someone’s life—rather than just general platitudes—seems to be what really needs to happen.”