Northwestern Mutual Poll: Kids Are Clueless About Parents’ Charitable Giving

MILWAUKEE (BUSINESS WIRE), December 22, 2010 - Kids don’t know how their parents give to charity, according to new poll results released by the Northwestern Mutual Foundation’s financial literacy Web site,

When asked, “Do you know what organizations or causes your family donates money or time to?” most children 17 and younger (77 percent) said either “I’m not aware of their giving at all” or “I know my parents give back, but I’m not sure how or to whom.” Only 23 percent said “My parents talk about the organizations and causes they support.”

“Kids who are taught about the importance of giving as well as budgeting responsibly for giving are better prepared to secure their own financial futures,” said financial literacy expert and Northwestern Mutual Senior Vice President Meridee Maynard. “It appears that parents aren’t proactively modeling and discussing their giving strategies, which would be a great learning opportunity for their children.”

Kids were also asked, “How do your parents support organizations or causes?” Eighteen percent said their parents “donate time and energy by volunteering,” while only 10 percent said their parents “donate money.” Six percent reported that their parents “donate food, clothing and supplies.” The overwhelming majority of children (64 percent) said they have no idea what is done.

“Parents have good charitable intentions, but if they don’t discuss them with their kids, a valuable learning opportunity is lost,” said Maynard. “Planning how to give is just as important as the planning that goes into saving, spending and investing. These are early learnings that can help young people become financially-savvy adults.”

Key Points for Parents

“The holiday season is the perfect time for parents to assess how they’re modeling and explaining charitable giving to their kids in the context of the family’s overall financial security plan,” Maynard said.

Maynard encourages parents to:

  1. Involve kids in conversations about your charitable giving. Develop giving goals as a family. During the holiday season, choose a charity to financially support as a family. Model – and explain – how the family will budget to meet that giving goal.
  2. Show kids that money isn’t just for spending. Use a four-bank system: for saving, spending, investing and giving.
  3. Encourage kids to develop realistic personal giving goals to support a cause they believe in.
  4. Explain to teens the concept of tax benefits related to charitable contributions.

About Poll

From November through December 2010, visitors to the financial literacy Web site were invited to answer two questions about their knowledge of their parents’ charitable giving. A combined total of more than 1,011 respondents nationwide provided insight, and the results were then analyzed based on several demographic factors including the age and gender. This poll marks the twelfth in an ongoing series of polls by, with the aim of bringing continued awareness to financial literacy issues. Poll results are archived on the site and can be viewed at

Launched in 1997, is a collaboration between the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, the charitable arm of Northwestern Mutual, and the National Council on Economic Education (NCEE). The site provides fun activities, games, challenges, quizzes and tests for students and teens, helpful tips for parents, and entertaining programs and lesson plans for teachers to promote financial literacy.

About Northwestern Mutual

The mission of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation is to build strong, vibrant communities that serve as a legacy to future generations. The Foundation’s giving is designed to create an impact on the communities where the company’s employees and financial representatives live and work. In fiscal year 2010, the Foundation contributed more than $15 million to nonprofit organizations across the country.

The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company – Milwaukee, WI (Northwestern Mutual) has helped clients achieve financial security for more than 150 years. Northwestern Mutual and its subsidiaries offer a holistic approach to financial security solutions including: life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance, annuities, investment products, and advisory products and services. Subsidiaries include Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, member FINRA and SIPC; the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company, limited purpose federal savings bank; and Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company; and Russell Investments. Further information can be found at

12/22/2010 11:08:02 AM