A seven-step plan for raising generous kids

For several years now, I’ve subscribed to the Family Giving News a publication that bills itself as “the nation’s most widely read e-newsletter for giving families.” Although aimed at an audience living well above my pay-grade, the advice provided is almost always useful to any family for whom generous matters — including my own.

Case in point, the following seven-point plan for raising kids who grow up to be responsible and philanthropic adults. For the complete article, click here. For my paraphrase, read on.

  1. Share information. Financially privileged families (by the world’s standard, that’s basically anyone living in North America) infrequently discuss their wealth, leading young people to either take money for granted or to feel anxious about its origins and expectations for their use of it. 
  2. Build trusting relationships.Because so many of today’s parents were raised in families where money was a taboo topic, broaching the subject doesn’t come easy. But trusting kids enough to share financial decisions is key to nurturing giving relationships. 
  3. Invite questions. Don’t be put off if your kids challenge the “why” of giving. Listen to concerns they may have about the charitable choices you’re making and be open to their suggestions of other options.
  4. Share authority. Kids should feel they have a stake in the family’s giving decisions. As the folks at FGN suggest, “Offering a young person a specific opportunity to contribute, have a voice, and then vote in the family affairs is important.” 
  5. Walk the talk. Congruence between what parents say and how they act is important; children tend to adopt the behaviors of their parents even when those behaviors are contrary to what the parents say.
  6. Communicate with consistency. A little money talk every day is better than a once-a-year data dump. Once you’ve got the conversation rolling, stick with it. 
  7. Learn together. Whenever possible, include your kids in conversations with representatives from the good causes to which your family gives. Involve them in volunteer activities and service projects. Read websites together. Pray together.

In my work with faith-based nonprofits, I’m privileged to talk with philanthropic folks from all walks of life and income brackets. Invariably, when I ask how they learned to give, they point back to their parents (and grandparents) — a wonderful reminder that for growing generous hearts, there’s no place like home.


  1. Mark Bussert says:

    Thanks for this article. As a Director of Stewardship serving three churches, I am always looking for material/ideas for teaching kids and teens (and their parents). I find the resources are quite limited!

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