Giving behaviour of adults affects their children, says study

Heart of the Donor, a survey in the US by the Russ Reid Company, says parents have more influence on giving than race, politics, religion or income

Parents affect childrens' behaviour
Parents affect childrens' behaviour

Parental behaviour has a huge influence on the giving and volunteering behaviour of children, according to new research carried out in the US.

Heart of the Donor, a report commissioned by the fundraising organisation the Russ Reid Company and carried out by Grey Matter Research and Consulting, is based on a survey of a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 American adults.

It found that parental behaviour had more influence than religion, politics, race or household income over whether people gave to charity or volunteered later in life.

For those respondents who recalled their parents frequently supporting not-for-profit organisations when they were growing up, 52 per cent said they were now donors.

Among those who saw their parents give occasionally, 46 per cent said they were donors and for those who rarely or never saw such behaviour, 26 per cent were donors.

Similar levels of impact were noted for volunteering.

Joe Saxton, co-founder of the consultancy nfpSynergy, said charities should learn from the findings that it was important to influence people’s donor behaviour from a young age.

"Children generally take on the habits of their parents worldwide – giving would be one of those," he said.

Cathy Pharoah, co-director of the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy, said charities should take on board the findings and make more effort to understand what influences giving.

"They could then use this knowledge to raise awareness among the public about what can work," she said.

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