Charitable Parents Prompt Charitable Kids, Says Fidelity Charitable Study

Fidelity Charitable found that the vast majority of children modeled their parents’ philanthropic behavior.


Illustration by RIA Intel

Parenting has a positive influence on charitable giving, according to new report by Fidelity Charitable, the non-profit affiliated with Fidelity Investments.

The independent charity surveyed 1,500 parents and nonparents to find out how becoming a parent affects charitable behavior.

Fidelity found that as people start families, philanthropy becomes a higher priority with parents reporting an increase in their annual giving after having kids.

“With all the pressure on parents today in raising children, it is inspiring to see that parents are finding time to model generosity for their children, which we believe will translate into this next generation continuing the American tradition of philanthropy,” said Amy Pirozzolo, head of marketing at Fidelity Charitable, in a statement.

Being a parent makes them more likely to give.

According to the survey, 69 percent of Americans with children under age 18 living at home, and 63 percent of non-parents were likely to give to charity. However, 40 percent of parents said they gave very or fairly often, compared to just 24 percent of nonparents.

Additionally, 60 percent of parents who give identified themselves as “committed givers” —people who have performed multiple charitable activities within the last year. Just 44 percent of non-parents said the same.

The majority of parents who gave to charity said that parenting increased the priority of giving in their lives and becoming often change who they gave to.

According to the report, 47 percent of parents said they supported ‘very different’ or ‘fairly different’ types of organizations after becoming parents, with a greater focus on causes related to their children’s education and activities.

Eighty-one percent of parents who give reported that their children also participated in charitable activities in the past year.

In the last year, the majority of children of philanthropic parents under the age of 18 either volunteered (59 percent), gave directly (58 percent), purchased products to donate (51 percent), or made a financial donation to a nonprofit (51 percent).

Advisors play an important part in the giving process, but they can do more, said Colby Bircher, vice president at Fidelity Charitable, in an email.

“Most people working with a financial advisor today are giving to charity, but many are not giving in the most strategic way. For example, continuing to give cash instead of appreciated securities,” Bircher said. “Yes, financial and wealth advisors can help clients determine how much they can give, the right asset to give, and the right giving vehicle to support that giving. But beyond helping clients find opportunities to give more and reduce taxes, engaging in charitable planning conversations helps advisors connect with clients at a deeper level and builds stronger relationships.”

Donor-advised funds are one popular charitable investment vehicle that can help advisors facilitate giving in a tax-efficient way.

Bircher believes that more advisors should be having these discussions with their clients.

“Many advisors are still not discussing charitable planning with all clients, which is why we encourage advisors to bring it up proactively as a part of the annual planning process, both to better understand the client’s values and goals and to better bring them solutions,” said Bircher. “Talking about charitable giving—or creating a giving tradition—is a good way to build a foundation of shared values and set the groundwork for other conversations. Opportunities exist to do this when children are young all the way up into adulthood.”

Update: The article headline has been changed to reflect that this was Fidelity Charitable study.

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