Boomers at top in charitable giving

Baby Boomers, the generation born from 1946 to 1964, account for 43 percent of charitable giving in the U.S., more than that of any other generation, and will dominate charitable giving for the foreseeable future, a new study says.

Seventy-two percent of Boomers, or 51 million donors ages 49 to 67 in 2013, give to charity, supporting 4.5 charities on average and making an annual gift that averages $1,212, says the study, Next Generation of American Giving.

The study, commissioned by Blackbaud and based on an online survey of 1,014 U.S. donors conducted by Edge Research, also found that while most Americans give, overall giving remains flat.

Eighty-eight percent of “Matures,” or those age 68 or older this year, and 60 percent of “Gen X” and “Gen Y”, or those age 33 to 48, and 18 to 32, respectively, give to charity, the study says.

But 59 percent of donors say the amount they give, and 70 percent of donors say the number of charities they give to, will remain the same in the future.

Nearly 60 percent of Gen Y identified the ability to directly see the impact of their donation as a critical part of their decision process, the survey says, a concern that declines with each older generation, the survey says.

The biggest share of donors across all generations supports social service charities, houses of worship, and health organizations, the survey says.

Gen Y is least likely to support local social services, it says, while Gen X and Gen Y are more likely to support children’s charities; Boomers and Matures are more likely to support veterans’ causes; Gen Y is less likely to support environmental causes; and Gen X and Gen Y are more likely to support human rights and international causes.

Nearly half of Boomers and Matures but only 36 of Gen X and 25 percent of Gen Y believe monetary donations make the biggest difference.

Online giving continues to grow in importance and prominence, with 42 percent of Boomers reporting they give online as their primary method and 40 percent preferring to give through direct mail.

“For the first time, we are seeing a different generation emerge as the torchbearer of giving,” Dennis McCarthy, vice president of strategy for Target Analytics, a division of Blackbaud, says in a statement. “This really signals a strong shift is needed in the way nonprofits think about supporter engagement.”

— Todd Cohen

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