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Age no barrier to giving, finds research from Indiana University

Age no barrier to giving, finds research from Indiana University
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Age no barrier to giving, finds research from Indiana University

Fundraising | Celina Ribeiro | 18 Jun 2008

While many fundraisers have been concentrating on how to capture the hearts and wallets of the baby boomer generation, a new US study suggests the not-for-profit sector may be missing out on other opportunities after finding little difference in propensity towards philanthropy between the generations.

Research conducted by Indiana University’s Centre for Philanthropy for the US consultancy, Campbell & Company, has discovered that the Millennials – those born since 1981 – and Generation X – those born between 1964 and 1980 – are an underestimated and untapped resource.

Accounting for factors such as education and income levels, the research found there was essentially no difference in rates of giving between generations. But even before such factors were taken into account, Millennials, often considered less likely to give to charitable causes, had participation rates of 80 per cent, only marginally less than the 86.6 per cent of the baby boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1963).

However, there was a marked difference in the average amount given by Millennials in comparison to older, more affluent generations. The average total donation of a member of the Millennial generation was $1,279 per year, a third less than the $1,985 given by the average baby boomer donor.

Generation X was found to give $1,971 per year per average donor.

“There’s a perception in the nonprofit world that young people aren’t as philanthropic, so this is great news,” said Campbell & Company’s annual giving consultant Shaun Keister. “A lot of the Millennial generation are still in school or have lower salaries because they’re at the beginning of their careers, so this suggests their giving may rise along with their earning power.”

According to Keister, young donors are both willing and able to donate more, but are being under-asked by charities with low expectations.

Those seeking to secure the Millennial donation should look to the bigger picture. A key finding of the research was that younger donors were more likely than any other age group to cite ‘making the world a better place’ as a major reason for their choosing to give to charities.

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