Spread The Spirit Of Meaningful Giving This Holiday Season



Talk about giving with your family to instill philanthropic traditions.

The holidays tend to ignite the spirit of giving in all of us. As your family gathers to celebrate, the dining room table is a great place to start the discussion of philanthropy. As you give thanks, give back. As you fill your bellies, think about how you can fill the bellies of those in need.

This time of year, especially, families come together and volunteer for worthy causes, give to their favorite charities and visit charitable organizations. The holiday season reminds us of the importance to “spread cheer” and do good in the world. As the end of the year approaches, this is a great time to assess your charitable giving. Is it making the most impact possible? Is it something you are passing on to the next generation? Is it something you have prioritized throughout the year?

According to a new study by Fidelity Charitable, children who grow up in families with strong giving traditions are more likely to carry on that tradition and give charitably as adults. It is also reported that they are more likely to be happy and contented adults. Adults who grew up in a home that openly discussed and encouraged philanthropic giving also tend to have closer relationships with their families. Their study investigates how charitable giving traditions instilled during childhood lead to a happier family dynamic and increased philanthropic activity as adults.

Why Giving Traditions Matter

Fidelity Charitable asked a number of families about their giving habits. The results show that growing up in a household with strong giving traditions and open communication about the importance of giving to make a big impact on the world leads to more giving as an adult. Compared to other adults, those who had grown up in households that focused on charitable giving and philanthropy showed significantly more philanthropic activity. For example, these adults:

  • Spend more time volunteering (89% vs. 73%)
  • Are closer to their immediate family (81% vs. 71%)
  • Are closer to their extended family (33% vs. 16%)
  • Consider themselves happy (48% vs. 33%)
  • Give more than $5,000 to charity each year (45% vs. 36%)
  • Attribute their charitable giving habits to the influence of their parents (38% vs. 14%)
  • See the full list of statistics here.

Start the discussion today! Families that talk about giving are not only found to be happier and closer to their family members—they are also making a bigger impact. Are you talking about giving with your family? Are you demonstrating philanthropic activity to the next generation? It’s never too late to start teaching children about the importance of charitable giving. More and more, families are talking about giving and making philanthropic decisions together about where their money is being allocated. One example is to agree upon a specific set of family values. These values will guide your family giving consistently for generations to come.

How To Make Your Own Giving Traditions

Pamela Norley, President of Fidelity Charitable, said of their study on family giving traditions, “We’ve always known that strategic philanthropy benefits the charities donors support, but this study proves that the impact goes beyond that. Giving makes people happier and is a significant contributor to a happier and healthy family, too. Those looking to reconnect with their loved ones this holiday season should consider starting a new giving tradition as a way to foster discussion, learn from and inspire one another.”

Starting a family giving tradition is an excellent way to build relationships with your family. According to a Harvard Study, good relationships are the key to health and happiness – regardless of how much money is in your bank account, or how many prestigious companies you have worked for. Giving is an excellent way to bring the family together and remember how fortunate you are to be able to give back.

There are many ways to increase philanthropic activity and to begin your own family giving traditions this holiday season:

  1. Talk about it. Families who talk about their finances and their charitable giving are more likely to raise children who give generously as well. Talk about to whom, when and how much to give. Talk about the importance of giving. Talk about how fortunate you are as a family to be able to give and make an impact on the world. Talk about specific charities and creative ways to give.
  2. Volunteer together. Involve all members of the family in volunteering. From soup kitchens to Christmas caroling, volunteering together is a selfless way to begin a legacy of giving back for generations to come.
  3. Attend a charitable event. Attending events or charitable organizations together (at churches, universities, children’s hospitals, etc.) as a family will increase the likelihood of future charitable engagement as adults.
  4. Work on a service project together. Work together as a family on a specific project. Make a care package for a child in need or write letters to our troops overseas. Make it a tradition you can do together every year around the holiday season. Read more ideas here.
  5. Provide a giving allowance. Allow kids to set money aside to give away to a charity or nonprofit of their choice. This will instill early learning about philanthropy and the importance of prioritizing it in the future.

Bring everyone together this holiday season to carry on a tradition of giving with your family. Or, if you have no traditions in place, get creative and start a new one. Involve the entire family in the philanthropic process. There’s no better time to begin to spread the spirit of meaningful giving for generations to come.

Today, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, is Giving Tuesday, the unofficial kick-off to the giving season. Since its inception in 2012, giving on this day has steadily increased and 2018 is expected to be a record-breaking year in giving. It’s never too late to begin giving as a family, and today is a great time to start! Thanks to Fidelity Charitable for sharing their study about the importance of family giving traditions. Click here to read more about it.

Additional Reading:

A version of this article was originally written for and published by Forbes.

© 2018 Kris Putnam-Walkerly. All rights reserved. Permission granted to excerpt or reprint with attribution.

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I serve as a trusted advisor to foundation leaders and high-wealth donors across the globe. My clients report immediate and dramatic improvement in both personal performance and philanthropic impact.

If you or someone you know could use my help, please send them my way. Contact me directly at kris@putnam-consulting.com or call me at +1-800-598-2102 x1 and we can work together to make your giving matter.


Kris Putnam-Walkerly, MSW, has helped to transform the impact of top global philanthropies for 20 years. A member of the Million Dollar Consultant Hall of Fame and named one of America’s Top 25 Philanthropy Speakers three years in a row. Author of the award-winning book Confident Giving: Sage Advice for Funders, which was named one of “The 10 Best Corporate Social Responsibility Books.” For more ways to improve your giving, visit Putnam Consulting Group.


Putnam Consulting approach is refreshing! It’s the right approach. They make sure our philanthropy makes sense — to us and our partners, grantees, and community. 

Sherece West-Scantlebury, Ph.D. President and CEO, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation


Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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