givingThe best and strongest habits are those which have been practiced over time.  They have become such a part of life that we don’t even think about them before we do them.

Is it possible that the habit of giving could be nurtured in the same way?

There is some evidence that such is the case.

Walt Whitman said, “The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give.”

If you’ve ever watched someone donate to Kiva, that comment certainly seems to be true.  Yes, it is easy to give to Kiva in the beginning because you aren’t really giving; you are making a loan.  But watch what happens once they have the money back in their accounts.  They lend it again. It doesn’t take long before they are making other loans before the previous one has been paid off.  It becomes a habit by choice and because they have developed the mindset of giving.

Some not for profit organisations start cultivating donors at an early age.  Think of read-a-thons or the 40 Hour Famine, which is often backed strongly by schools which encourage student participation.  Think about charities which encourage the young to become involved by sponsoring an animal and ending them photos and letters about the animal to enhance the engagement.

These organisations believe that by establishing the habit of donating when a child is young, they are encouraging the habit to continue in their later years.

A 2011 report supports that idea.  They found that building a habit of giving among young people leads to the giving of larger gifts when older.  The report says, “…the large magnitude of the effect of being a frequent giver when young suggests that non-profit organizations in general…should give serious consideration to devoting additional resources to raising participation rates among young potential donors.”

What is your not for profit doing to develop the habit of giving in your community?   How could you encourage young people to become involved in giving?