News and analysis
September 12, 2013

90% of Kids Give to Charity

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Nine out of 10 children give money to charity, according to a study released Thursday.

While some just give pennies, the efforts that parents and others are making to encourage giving show that charities would benefit by doing more to start early to nurture future generations of donors, says Debra Mesch, director of Indiana University’s Women’s Philanthropy Institute and one of the authors of the report.

Children whose parents talk to them about giving are 20 percent more likely to give than those whose parents don’t, she said, a finding that she says charities should let their supporters know.

“Parents today, especially women, are very interested in leaving a giving legacy,” says Ms. Mesch. “So charities should think about how they can involve more families in these kinds of discussions and in volunteering for an organization, or involving the children in the charity of the parents.”

Income and Gender

The report, by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University and the United Nations Foundation, used data from a decades-long study of 903 American children from age 8 to 19. The children’s giving behavior was tracked during two 12-month periods, from 2002 to 2003 and from 2007 to 2008.

Among the findings:

  • Giving rates among boys and girls were the same, but girls were much more likely to volunteer: Forty-nine percent of girls had given their time at least once, compared with 39 percent of boys.
  • While children from households at all income levels gave, children from the most affluent households—those with $72,000 or more in income—were most likely to give. Sixty-one percent of kids in the highest-income homes gave in both years, compared with 56 percent in middle-income households and 44 percent in families that made less than $38,000.

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