Aiding Family Traditional Giving Can Be Profitable

Hank Williams, Jr. sang about family traditions that might not be the best things to pass from generation to generation. A study of 3,000 donors by Fidelity Charitable, though, shows that there is a positive to traditional giving within families.

According to results of the new study, those who grow up in families with strong giving traditions are more likely to engage in charitable activities as adults. The organization’s latest study explores how the giving habits and priorities experienced during one’s childhood affect how a person gives back as an adult, as well as how giving traditions influence a family’s dynamic, including happiness.

Key findings from the study include:

* 45 percent of respondents who grew up with strong giving traditions donate $5,000 or more to charity annually — and 89 percent volunteer an average of eight hours a month;

* 48 percent of people who experienced strong giving traditions during their childhood consider themselves a very happy person today, compared to 33 percent who did not grow up with strong traditions; and,

* 38 percent of survey participants who grew up with strong giving traditions said their giving habits are inspired by their parents.

“We’ve always known that strategic philanthropy benefits the charities donors support, but this study proves that the impact goes beyond that,” said Pamela Norley, president of Fidelity Charitable via a statement. “Giving makes people happier and is a significant contributor to a happier and healthy family too. Those looking to reconnect with their loved ones this holiday season should consider starting a new giving tradition as a way to foster discussion, learn from and inspire one another.”

The study shows that efforts will pay dividends in reinforcing values of generosity. Giving traditions are formed over time and passed down through generations. Families that engage in philanthropic activities together encourage a lifelong commitment to charity in their youngest members. Survey respondents credit their parents’ strong giving traditions as the inspiration for their own giving habits.

More families are making philanthropy part of the conversation around the dinner table. While just two-fifths (39 percent) of survey respondents characterized their family’s giving style growing up as “consultative” (one person received input from the family but made the final decision) or “democratic” (decisions were made together as a family), nearly three-quarters (72 percent) report that they take a “consultative” or “democratic” approach to giving with their own families.

Among the suggested actions fundraisers can take to engage family donors are:

1. Share your giving stories and commit to action. Carve out time in your gathering for family members to share a charitable cause or issue they care about, as well as ways they’d like to support that cause in the next year.

2. Create a charity “registry.” Ask family members to bring an item from a favorite nonprofit’s wish list and, if possible, arrange a time to deliver the items together.

3. Socialize over service. After your meal, complete an at-home service project together, such as packaging care kits for cancer patients or gift wrapping presents for a family in need.

4. Volunteer as a group. Sign up to help out a favorite charity in the morning, and discuss the experience in the afternoon.

5. Give together. Choose a charity or charities together for your family to support—you can even ask family members to nominate charities and come prepared to make a case. You can select the charities in a variety of ways: voting, drawing straws or rotating who gets to make the decision each year.