To help inform your family giving, we’ve published highlights from the latest research by The Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. For a detailed analysis, please download the PDF.
Relevant for all donor levels.
Women Give 2018 asks how parents transmit generosity to their children and whether this differs for sons and daughters. The study first explores the linkage between whether parents give to charitable organizations and whether their adult children give. It then examines frequency and amount of parental giving as well as wealth level to assess how these factors relate to charitable giving by the adult children.
Deepening understanding about how the transmission of generosity takes place between generations and whether gender differences exist is timely in light of the continuing intergenerational transfer of wealth and its potential to increase charitable giving. By looking at the giving behavior of adult children, Women Give 2018 affirms that parents have the ability to influence children while they live in the same household, and how children carry this behavior into adulthood. If giving is to increase and continue to address the pressing challenges of today’s society, then society in turn must find ways to ensure that these values are passed on to both sons and daughters.
Message is Key, Especially for Sons
By looking at the giving behavior of adult children, Women Give 2018 confirms previous research showing that charitable giving is transmitted from parents to children. However, because daughters and sons are receiving different messages, or responding to the same messages in different ways, parents’ giving is more strongly linked to a daughter’s likelihood to give than a son’s.
These findings are important for all parents. This report suggests that sons need to be more actively socialized into the practice of giving. Parents should send messages to their sons about giving, and should also check to be sure those messages have been received. Parents of daughters should understand that a pivotal component socializing daughters into giving is the parents’ own giving.
Questions for Parents to Ask Themselves
- How often do I give, and what does that tell my children about the importance of giving in my life?
- What deeper values about giving am I sending my children?
- What are my children’s questions about giving? What purposes and causes are my children interested in?
What Family Donors Should Know
- Adult children — both sons and daughters — whose parents give to charity are more likely to give to charity.
- Parents’ giving frequency matters more for adult daughters’ giving than for adult sons’ giving.
- The gender difference in how parents’ giving is related to their adult daughters’ and sons’ giving is driven by higher-wealth parents.
Given the increasing disparities in the United States today, many parents from across the income spectrum want to raise children who care about fairness and equity in their communities. What can parents do to ensure their children want to help others and make a positive difference in the world?