In 2001, the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy conducted a study on behalf of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, “Agent-Animated Wealth and Philanthropy: The Dynamics of Accumulation and Allocation Among High-Tech Donors,” to create a picture of high-tech donors’ giving habits.
The study revealed that high-tech donors — many of them entrepreneurial Gen-Xers who made their fortunes during the dot-com boom — require organizations they support to be more perceptive about the needs of the people they serve. And unlike most groups of wealth holders, high-tech donors are relatively young, unmarried or recently married, and often conduct business in a locale in which they did not grow up. Most of their businesses are not locale specific and could be operated anywhere.
Respondents cited several factors as limiting more extensive and intensive philanthropic involvement at this stage of their lives. Among them: not enough desired wealth; assets tied up in business activities; and the need for more education about different methods and strategies of giving.
What’s more, high-tech donors tend not to be active participants in religious congregations, a starkly different characteristic than that of previous wealth-holding generations.
A leap of faith? Not quite.
Generation X, as a cohort, gives significantly less to charity than the baby boomer and prewar generations, according to “Giving Across Generations,” a paper published in 2003 by Richard Steinberg and Mark Wilhelm at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.
The study was conducted by the University of Michigan and tracked the philanthropic giving of more than 700 families. Among the key findings: Generation X contributes an average annual gift of $532 (53 percent); boomers give $1,662 (75 percent); and the prewar generation donates $1,788 (80 percent).
But when it comes to faith-based and religious charities, Generation X contributes substantially less ($339 or 31 percent), compared to boomers ($991 or 51 percent) and the prewar generation ($1,168 or 62 percent).