Philanthropy in the Home | How Sons and Daughters respond based upon Gender

Author: Natalie Lynn Rekstad (Member, Women Moving Millions)

On March 13th in Denver, Colorado, I was fortunate to attend the 2018 release of Women Give, the signature research report of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, focusing on gender differences in charitable giving.

This year’s report focuses upon how parents’ philanthropic activity directly influences the children they are raising, and how that influence lands differently for daughters and sons.  The report provides evidence that gender does in fact matter in philanthropy and offers insight into how gender influences giving and generosity, and provides insights into how to increase giving by both genders.  In short, charitable giving is a prosocial behavior that can be translated differently between boys and girls. The research found that both sons and daughters are influenced positively by parents who are charitable and are more likely to give to charity themselves; however, daughters are more strongly influenced by modeling by parents; sons are more influenced by discussing giving.

The research also investigates how parents relay philanthropic values to their children based upon gender.  For example, girls are much more likely to be raised with the traditional caregiving values. Daughters are often taught, directly or indirectly, that giving to charitable organizations is an act of caregiving and are therefore more likely to contribute based on that instilled value.

Another determining factor may be the difference in parental treatment in raising of sons and daughters.  Boys are typically taught to take higher risks than daughters, while girls are taught in a more intellectual manner. Another lens of the study reports that while daughters and sons are raised similarly and taught the same values throughout their childhood, they respond differently to the same message. For daughters, a parents charitable behavior directly impacts their own in adulthood, being 27% more likely to give if they had parents who were charitable. Findings show that parents’ philanthropic behavior, whether they give or not, has little impact on their adult sons. Frequency of a parents’ giving also impacts daughters more than it does sons.

Bottom line:  While sons and daughters respond differently to their parents’ philanthropic behavior, the act of philanthropy in the home ups the odds that children will be more charitable as adults. Communicating this value to sons and daughters in a way that uniquely lands with their gender increases those odds even more.

Read the full report here.