The habits of future charity givers depend on what they see their parents and grandparents give.

A new study shows that kids have no clue about their parent’s charitable giving tendencies. That’s bad news, as the next generation of givers doesn’t have the knowledge (or inclination) to keep the less fortunate firmly and financially in sight. How can parents turn the tables? By creating a healthier charitable giving climate for the young.

Northwestern Mutual Senior Vice President Meridee Maynard has some helpful pointers that can get families pointed in a more altruistic direction.

•    Involve kids in conversations about your charitable giving.

•    Develop giving goals as a family.

•    Choose a charity to financially support as a family. Model—and explain—how the family will budget to meet that giving goal.

•    Show kids that money isn’t just for spending. Use a four-bank system for saving, spending, investing and giving.

•    Encourage kids to develop realistic personal giving goals to support a cause they believe in.

•    Explain to teens the concept of tax benefits related to charitable contributions.

If kids see, talk and hear about their parents’ charitable giving, they'll be more likely to follow suit. If they remain in the dark, the spigot can tragically run dry when those kids grow up.

--Brian O'Connell,