What do the numbers tell that would help me engage everyone more effectively? The real issue: you’re sharp enough to have noticed that a 20 year-old, a 40 year-old, and a 60 year-old do not tend to respond the same way to the same kinds of communication and appeals. So you’re wondering how best to spend your time in order to get the best value for your organization. Who really gives a lot of money? Where do they tend to give it? And so on.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently released an EXCELLENT infographic about this—I encourage you to click and take a look. Chances are you know the oldest two generations (CoP calls them the “elder generation” and Baby Boomers) pretty well. But what about the 20 and 40 year-olds, who will be your donor base very, very soon? Here are some things that jumped out at me.

  • A whopping 60% of Millennials give (higher than Gen X and only 12% behind Boomers). That is a huge number for a generation that supposedly is half unemployed and has no money.
  • Yes, you say, but they probably give smaller amounts. True, but not nearly as small as you’d think. Millennials donate an average of $481 each every year, which is 60% of what Gen Xers (the 40 year-olds) donate. That adds up to $15.8 billion in giving each year by young adults, because there are 91.2 million Millennials (their generation is 50% bigger than Gen X). Takeaway: don’t discount the kids.
  • People in the youngest two adult generations (Gen X and Millennial) support an average of 3.9 and 3.3 charities per person, respectively. By comparison, Boomers support 4.5 and the Elder Generation supports 6.2. Takeaway: younger people support fewer causes financially. Based on my own more qualitative research, I urge you not to discount this—the number might increase some as they get older, but I doubt it will grow much. The younger generations tend to feel pretty strongly about being a part of the organizations they support; they don’t tend to want to write a check once a year and be forgotten for the rest of it.
  • Note the “favorite causes” and “favorite ways to give” sections at the bottom of the generations chart. Millennials are the first generation to not identify church as their top charity to support (children’s charities replace it, for now). They also seem a little more open to checkout counter donations.

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