Does your family enjoy giving to the charities you care about? You are not alone! More than 90% of Americans give to at least one charitable organization each year. But how do families learn about "doing good" in the first place? That's an area that is the subject of increasing attention in academic and empirical studies.
The goal of the emerging research is to identify the motivations and expectations of people who give to charity, especially as the household definition of "philanthropy" expands to include a wide range of giving activities, including donations of gently-used clothing and books, attending community events, recycling, volunteering, serving on boards, sharing with neighbors, purchasing products that support a cause, caring about your own well-being, and even marketing a favorite organization through social media.
How do families learn to do good? Not surprisingly, the research is beginning to suggest that learning starts with mothers, working with their children at home. And learning about philanthropy in families also appears to start online.
A study conducted through the Social Impact Benchmark with a pilot group of mothers has revealed that learning about philanthropy may actually be supercharged when mothers combine hands-on activities with online activities. In the study, mothers were asked to complete a “10 Ways to Do Good” coloring activity with their children, designed to celebrate the good that the families were already doing–regardless of the causes supported. Following the exercise, mothers were asked to complete a brief online tutorial about the 10 Ways to Do Good. The study indicated that mothers and future philanthropists were able to increase the richness of their conversations by interacting with traditional "paper and crayon," online resources, and, of course, each other. In fact, more than 92% of the study participants indicated that they even would be very likely to reuse the material in the online tutorial to help teach their children about doing good.
So, what's the bottom line? The bottom line is that mothers interacting with children--and leveraging technology to enhance the experience--is a powerful way to teach the benefits of philanthropy in all of its many forms.
Three cheers for Mom! Mothers are so good.