Mackenzie publishes charitable giving book for children

By Kate McCaffery | December 5, 2007 | Last updated on December 5, 2007
3 min read

(December 2007) Charitable giving and financial education for children are both emerging and increasingly recognized in the industry as the feel-good discussion points that can draw whole families into the financial planning process. The two trends have come together in the form of a new children’s book from Mackenzie Financial, written and illustrated to help parents teach their kids about the value of giving.

In the past few years firms have recognized the opportunity to use charitable giving discussions in an advisor’s relationship-building arsenal; federal budgets have provided strategies whereby advisors need to get involved in the process; and clients, in general, are more inclined to give than ever before.

Leading up to the book’s publishing date, Mackenzie surveyed 624 parents with children under 17 to find out if Canadians were talking to their kids about charitable giving.

“Frankly, we weren’t sure,” says Brad Offman, vice-president of strategic philanthropy at Mackenzie. “I was actually quite pleasantly surprised by the results. I think the figures are quite high.”

The survey found that 87% agree that charitable giving is an important value to instill in their children. Nearly two-thirds of those who’ve discussed charitable giving with their children had that talk when the child was five years of age or younger. Roughly 70% of women and 55% of men said they would likely have this conversation.

To help, Offman decided to write the book The Charity Glove after noticing there were few books for children on the subject. “I certainly noticed, when looking for books for my own kids, that there was a real dearth of books about charitable giving for children. Even about the idea of charitable giving.”

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Written for children between four and eight years old, the book follows a fictional character, Kaitlyn, who plays baseball with her father but is saddened to learn that not all children who play at the recreation centre she attends can afford their own baseball gloves. Kaitlyn donates a glove to the youth centre, and the boy who receives it goes on to become a professional player. Later in life, he too gives back to the same youth centre that supported him.

Although the characters are fictional, Offman says the initial premise is inspired by a true story — when his son was five years old, he wanted to purchase a left-handed baseball glove, even though he wears a right-handed glove. When asked about his desire to buy the wrong-handed glove, Offman’s son said he wanted to buy the glove for charity. “He knows I work in charity, and he’s beginning to understand what it’s all about.”

The company says feedback has been good so far — Mackenzie has already given copies to some clients and employees who’ve read it to their children — and plans to distribute the book through advisors and to children participating in the Baseball Canada Rally Cap program in 2008.

“The reaction has been very positive. It’s been positive because they like the characters in the book, but a lot of parents also see this as a way of introducing the subject to their kids. It’s a tool for them,” says Offman. “People in the field of education have recognized the value of instilling things at an early age. It’s an appropriate time to teach kids about new things, so why not charitable giving?”

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Kate McCaffery