“Childless adults make huge impact with charitable donations” is the title of a recent article in The Toronto Star. Writer Marsha Barber talks about how a childless couple, Margaret and Charles Juravinski, are creating an endowment fund of $100 million to support health research.
One of Barber’s friends, also childless, willed her house and land to the Indigenous community in her area.
Barber goes on to discuss how childless people give far more to charity than those without children. Parents are focused on providing for their families, both during their lives and after they die.
My first reaction to this was, ha, childless or not, I don’t have a fortune to donate to anyone. But wait. I give regularly to my church, the Alzheimer’s Association, and agencies that feed the poor. I have enough to spare a bit every month. Maybe if I had children, I’d be using every penny of my income for them. Whatever I could save might go for their education. Isn’t that what parents do?
In my will, I leave most of my “estate” to my stepchildren and my niece and nephew. I also specify that my instruments and music supplies go to needy music students and my books to the local libraries. That’s something. Honestly, except for my writing, I don’t care where it goes when I die.
If I had a fortune, I’d love to give it to a charity that can really help people in need. I won’t have children who are counting on an inheritance.
I talk about this in my Childless by Marriage book, noting some of the crazy things childless people do with their money. For example, playwright George Bernard Shaw is said to have bequeathed millions to anyone who could devise a new alphabet that made more sense than the one we have. It should have 40 letters, he specified. Louis da Camara, a Portuguese man with no family, picked strangers out of Lisbon phone book to receive his wealth. Ruth Lilly, a poet, left $100 million to a poetry magazine that had repeatedly rejected her work. She also gave millions to various charities.
Without children, if we are lucky enough to make some money and keep it—no natural disasters, health crises, or investments gone awry—we can do whatever we want with it, including giving it away.
Or we could not worry about making any money because we don’t have any children to support. Investments? What for? Life insurance? Why?
How about you? Does not having children enable you to give freely to charity now or when you die? What do you say when people state that childless people are selfish? If you could give money to anyone, who would it be?