April 20, 2010

Parents Play Biggest Role in Encouraging Teenagers to Give, Study Finds

Teenagers report that their parents are the biggest influence on whether they give to nonprofit groups -- but many parents are not raising their children in a way that seems to encourage philanthropy and volunteerism, according to a study released today.

The study was based on a poll of 500 parents and 500 young people between the ages of 13 and 18. Conducted by Harris Interactive in behalf of the Pearson Foundation and Penguin Group, the study distinguished between teenagers who regularly volunteer, raise money, or donate versus those who do so infrequently or not at all.

The study identified several parenting techniques that are more common among parents of children who give frequently.

Thirty-three percent of teenagers who give often (referred to in the study as "givers") said their parents explained how their actions can help others; 19 percent of teenagers who give less often said their parents had taught them this.

Twenty-one percent of teenage "givers" said their parents discussed the value of the volunteering and philanthropy they do, compared with 7 percent of teenagers who give less often.

The study found that having a job or responsibilities helping around the neighborhood seemed to help foster giving.

Twenty-nine percent of young "givers" held a paying job, compared with 13 percent of other teenagers. Thirty-one percent of "givers" said they had a responsibility to help neighbors, compared with 15 percent of other teenagers.

The study was conducted earlier this month. Respondents from the survey were selected from among a database of people who have told Harris Interactive that they will participate in such polls.

Findings from the study, We Give Books Poll on Raising Future Philanthropists, are available at