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Raising the wealthy: philanthropy, children and wealth transfer

Fairbairn, Fiona (2023) Raising the wealthy: philanthropy, children and wealth transfer. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.102752) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:102752)

Language: English

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This research on raising wealthy children to be philanthropic is prompted by two separate but related factors. The first is the £5.5 trillion wealth transfer predicted to take place between 2017 and 2047, the scale of which creates an unprecedented income opportunity for a charity sector faced with declining statutory and individual income and increasing societal needs. If less than a third of this cascade of wealth were donated, that would double the total annual charitable income in each of those 30 years. At the same time, research finds that engaging in philanthropic activities such as helping and volunteering in childhood can lead to higher participation levels in adulthood.

This thesis examines the philanthropic knowledge and behaviours held by children likely to be amongst the future recipients of some of this extraordinary wealth transfer. The research explores how children aged 9 to 11 who belong to wealthy households in London engage with and participate in philanthropy at home and at school. The study examines whether they have the knowledge and desire to give and participate in philanthropy as well as the skills and opportunities to critically engage with charities, causes and philanthropy. This thesis, drawing on the concepts associated with philanthropic citizenship, seeks to find out what kind of philanthropic citizen financially secure children are learning to become.

A mixed-methods approach involving research with children was taken to explore this question, involving two surveys, four interviews and five focus groups to generate data from 220 children, 113 parents and four teachers. I find that the financially secure children that participated in this study are learning to become 'Personally Responsible' philanthropic citizens. This is an outcome that is arguably desirable in so far as encouraging charitable giving from a group that is likely, by virtue of inheritance, to have the means and resources to give generously in adulthood but falls short if we hope to raise philanthropists with the necessary knowledge, skills and desire to make informed giving decisions, to improve upon philanthropy and the ability to critically engage with the broader issues that sit behind charities, causes and the need for philanthropy in the first place. My research calls for a more considered approach to engaging children in philanthropy, involving opportunities to give and participate as well as structured learning opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills to critically engage with charities, causes and societal needs. This research supports calls in the literature for a more participatory and a more social justice-oriented approach to philanthropy education and participation in schools.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Body, Alison
Thesis advisor: Breeze, Beth
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.102752
Uncontrolled keywords: philanthropy; children; wealth transfer; philanthropic citizenship; generation alpha
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2023 10:10 UTC
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2023 11:53 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Fairbairn, Fiona.

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