The Economist recently published an article titled, “The rise of childlessness.” Full of demographic information, one area I found most interesting involves the charitable childfree and childless.

The Charitable Childfree & Childless

I call it the charitable childfree and childless because like many articles and research out there, it does not differentiate between the childfree and childless when discussing the demographic trends in this piece.  The article goes into interesting international trends, but the charity trends are ones I see less often.

It opens the discussion with, “Amazing as it may seem to parents who spend their evenings and weekends traipsing to football training and piano lessons, childless people find plenty of things to do with their time.” No kidding!

The article indicates that, “One German study found that 42% of charitable foundations were created by childless people.” One example is a Ms. Kinkel, who “started a charity called Bread and Books, which operates mostly in Africa. She describes it as her way of nurturing the next generation.”

Then there is the charitable contribution called cash.  From the article:

People without children are far more likely to bequeath money to charity, points out Russell James, an expert on philanthropy at Texas Tech University. In 2014 fully 48% of married childless people aged at least 55 who had written wills or will-like documents committed to giving something to charity. That was true of only 12% of parents and a mere 8% of grandparents. Knowing this, American universities have become acutely interested in whether their alumni have offspring, says Mr. James.

A Charitable Childfree Case in Point

I have been exposed to universities becoming interested in those with no children. I have a dear friend who is childfree and 80 years old, am the executor of her will, and in the process of assisting her with this, I learned she wanted to will the value of her home to her university Alma mater. Once the university learned of this and it was made official, it made a lot of efforts to get chummy with my elderly childfree friend. The university has invited her to galas, private events, and the like. They now also are receiving a few of my friend’s most valuable art pieces.  In addition to these gifts, almost all of her estate is going to charitable causes.

Leaving a Charitable Legacy

In the fall off 2011, I surveyed the childfree with an On-the-Ground Question pertaining to legacies they would like to leave. Many respondents said they wanted to be remembered for their charity work. Others definitely responded that their legacy would be in the form of cash given to charities they cared about. Still others did not want to wait to leave a charitable legacy.  Some thought the biggest legacy of all is a “living legacy” – that as one person put it, “Tending to the living, the elderly, disabled, those in poverty, unwanted/abused children, in the here and now is perhaps the noblest legacy of all.”

Readers without children out there:  What charities are you involved with now? Do you have a will or will-like document that gives to charity?

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