So much is written each month about the various charitable giving indexes that are released. It seems that the interest in charitable giving in the United States is at least equal to the attention devoted to the current state of the stock market.

I love statistics probably much more than most people. However, they rarely communicate the key premise of our sector: that the vast majority of giving comes from the heart. Raw data doesn’t do justice to the fact that people give to the causes they believe in deeply.

Child DonationThat very premise prompted me to ponder this question:

What would happen if today’s children grew up with little inclination for charitable giving?

This tragic thought has passed through my mind numerous times as I peruse the various giving indexes and the vast number of e-newsletters from the top fundraising consultants.

Enlightening Answers from Philanthropy Matters

Not long after pondering the question, the latest copy of Philanthropy Matters from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy arrived with the lead article titled Growing Up Giving.

The article, which suggests ways to talk to children about philanthropy, is based upon a study conducted by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. The findings are built upon earlier research conducted by the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which followed the giving habits of the same 903 children over two time periods 2002-2003 and 2007-2008.

My fears over a decline in giving subsided as I read the article.

90% of Children Ages 8-19 Give to Charity

The research revealed nearly 90% of children ages 8-19 give to charity! This is outstanding news for those of us devoted to the nonprofit sector.

Furthermore, giving did not depend upon wealth but more upon the role models involved. The article stated parents should help their children understand the difference their giving will make.

Role modeling alone is not as effective as explaining the difference the child’s giving actually makes.

Best Practices in Donor Retention and Communications Apply to All Ages

Those key points reflect the best practices in donor communications that make a large difference in donor retention rates. What I am referring to is communicating to the donor exactly what their donation is being used for and the difference those funds actually make for a given project!

This totally makes sense to me and once again underlines the importance of specific results oriented communications to donors of all ages.

Good News Across the Board

So, not only is my spirit lifted by this research on the charitable giving habits and motivations of our children, but also a key nugget of proper donor communication strategy comes to life again. Hopefully, such good news and best practices will bring a smile to every fundraising professional and volunteer reading this post.

img via