Study Shows No Generation Gap in Giving
Members of the Millennial generation are just as likely to open their wallets to charities as those born decades earlier, according to a report released in May by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.
The report, which analyzed generational giving trends by focusing on donors’ motivations for giving, types of causes supported and the amount donated, showed that young donors are as generous as those from older generations.
“We thought we would see some real differences, but giving across generations is not all that different,” says Edith Falk, chair and CEO of Chicago-based fundraising consultancy Campbell & Co.
The study, funded by Campbell & Co., examined the giving habits of more than 10,000 people from five generations. Results show those born after 1981, known as the Millennial generation, are less likely to give and tend to give less when they do make a donation. However, it further revealed that this trend is associated with income, education level and religious affiliation rather than the time period during which they were born. All other factors being equal, the study showed, the average giving level of Millennials is about the same as that of other generations.
“There’s a perception in the nonprofit world that young people aren’t as philanthropic, so this is great news,” Campbell & Co.’s annual giving consultant Shaun Keister says in a press release. “A lot of the members of the Millennial generation are still in school or have lower salaries because they’re at the beginning of their careers, so this suggests that their giving may rise along with their earning power.”
But the study did show that the generations differ on why they give. The Millennial generation is more likely to give to charities because they have a “desire to make the world a better place to live.” Meanwhile, the Silent generation, those born between 1929 and 1945, are more likely to give because there is a “need to provide services that the government can’t or won’t.”
The study further revealed that younger individuals will respond better to messages that focus on the global impact of an organization’s work, while older donors are more likely to give to groups that highlight services they provide that the government does not.
But the bigger implication, Keister says, is that organizations shouldn’t underestimate younger donors.
“A lot of nonprofits think younger donors just don’t make big gifts, so they ask for small amounts,” he says in the release, noting that Millennials tend to value the dollar differently than older donors do.
“Young people are willing to give larger amounts, but they won’t if they’re under-asked,” he adds. “A lot of Millennials can easily give $100, but in our experience, organizations are only asking them for $25 or $50 gifts.”