Parents' Giving Habits Shape Those of Children, Especially Daughters

Parents' Giving Habits Shape Those of Children, Especially Daughters

Adult children — especially daughters — whose parents give to charity are more likely to give than those whose parents don't give, a report from the Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy finds.

Based on data from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy's Philanthropy Panel Study, the report, Women Give 2018: Transmitting Generosity to Daughters and Sons (24 pages, PDF), found that while both sons and daughters are more likely to give if their parents do, the correlation is stronger for daughters. Of the thirty-seven hundred adult children between the ages of 19 and 65 in the sample, 80.5 percent of those whose parents give to charity also give to charity, compared with 71.8 percent of those whose parents don't. Among daughters, 82.6 percent of those whose parents give to charity also give, compared with only 69.7 percent of those whose parents don't — a much bigger difference than among sons (78.3 percent vs. 74.7 percent).

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the report also found that the frequency of giving by parents affects daughters more than it does sons, with daughters significantly more likely to give if their parents give frequently (84.3 percent) than if they give infrequently (72.8 percent), compared to 79.3 percent and 73.9 percent for sons. In addition, the study found that the relationship between daughters' and parents' giving is stronger when the parents are wealthier. Among sons whose parents have at least $100,000 in assets, the same percentages give to charity whether their parents give (87.5 percent) or not (87.5 percent), while among those whose parents have less than $100,000 in assets, 70.9 percent of those whose parents give to charity also give, compared with 57.9 percent of those whose parents don't. Among daughters with wealthier parents, 92.4 percent of those whose parents give also give, compared with only 65.4 percent of those whose parents don't, while among daughters with less wealthy parents, the gap is somewhat narrower (74.4 percent vs. 55.2 percent).

"For parents of sons, 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," the report argues. "Parents of daughters should understand that a pivotal component socializing daughters into giving is the parents' own giving."

"Women Give 2018 builds on previous research to underscore the importance of being intentional about the ways we transmit generosity," said Debra J. Mesch, director of the Women's Philanthropy Institute and the Eileen Lamb O'Gara Chair in Women's Philanthropy at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. "By exploring the relationship between parents' and children's giving through a gender lens, our findings can help parents be more effective as they pass on wealth and values to the next generation, which in turn can help increase charitable giving overall."

"Adult Children — Especially Daughters — More Likely to Give to Charitable Causes If Parents Give." Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Press Release 03/13/2018.