For many of us, our family legacies have influenced how we engage with the world — including our financial practices. As we grow older and begin to examine our spending, saving and giving patterns, some of us realize our families have taught us money-related behaviors we admire and strive to emulate, especially when it comes to giving. But let’s admit it: it’s not always easy to give. As women negotiating busy, 21st-century lives, how can we sustain and grow the inspiration to continue giving traditions, particularly to the causes and issues we care about?
One thing to keep in mind is that giving may contribute to our overall sense of life satisfaction and happiness, and serve as a model behavior that others around us want to emulate. Study results reported by Fidelity Charitable in 2018 revealed:
- A higher number of respondents who said they grew up with “strong giving traditions” felt closer to immediate as well as extended family members, and also felt higher levels of happiness than those who reported their family giving traditions were not strong.
- “Strong giving tradition” respondents were more likely to engage in conversations and negotiations about the value of giving and where to focus their giving efforts; the same group reported parents and grandparents were key influencers of their adult giving behaviors.
When it comes to giving, however, women often forge their own path. A body of research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (part of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) continues to reveal differences between the factors that influence the giving behaviors of women versus men. Among the key findings from WPI’s 2018 study? Parents’ giving behaviors, as well as the frequency of parental giving, appear to influence women’s adult giving behaviors more significantly than men’s behaviors.
There may be additional reasons for why giving behaviors and patterns can differ between genders: a 2007 New York Times article cites social research that adds to the discussion about contrasts between what motivates the giving behaviors of men and women.
How can women, who demonstrate distinct giving behaviors, apply what they know about the general benefits of giving to their individual financial behaviors? Additionally, how can women develop long-term giving behaviors and habits that remain within their financial capacities and align with their distinct values so that when they give, they are consciously “giving with gladness”?
We offer a few final recommendations on how to approach giving, and encourage you to share these ideas with your network of friends and family (the one you have or the family you’ve made):
- Build a network for your financial giving by discussing and sharing stories about the issues or organizations that you’d like to give to, and highlight the benefit(s) your giving could support.
- If you choose to donate part of “your treasure,” establish a financial gift-giving timeline — monthly, annually, or on another schedule — to ensure you remain within your financial capacities and do not place undue stress on your personal budget and other fiscal plans.
- As we’ve discussed previously, consider what “time” or “talent” you could provide — volunteering, consulting services, sponsorship, fundraising, etc. — in addition to or instead of a financial gift.
We understand that establishing a habit of giving can be a complex endeavor, influenced by lessons we’ve learned from our families or associated with a variety of positive and not-so-positive experiences related to money. Contact our team to discuss how you can develop a thoughtful strategy to begin meeting your goal of “giving with gladness.”