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The Next Generation of American Giving

AHP Staff
Published:  08/30/2018

Family on the beachAdapted from a 2018 webinar in collaboration with Blackbaud and presented by Erin Duff, senior marketing manager for Blackbaud

Why Look at Generational Giving?

Looking at the future of philanthropy through generational change is one of the most predictable and linear perspectives to take. One generation always precedes the other and every person ages exactly one day, every 24 hours. Compared to other variables facing health care development professionals today, the procession of generations is relatively stable and can give us a better idea of who to target and how to reach them.

Here’s a look at which generations were researched in this study:

  • Matures: before 1946
  • Baby Boomers: 1946 – 64
  • Generation X: 1965 – 1980
  • Millennials: 1981 – 1995
  • Generation Z: 1996 and beyond

Key Generational Giving Findings

In 2018, Baby Boomers continue to be the highest giving generation. The average age of a U.S. donor is 64 years old. Except for Baby Boomers, each generation has seen a decline in the amount of people giving since 2013. The study reveals that even though the amount of dollars donated is increasing, the population of donors is decreasing.

There are some early indications that the Boomer-dominated giving may have already reached its peak. The overall percentage of dollars given by Boomers has decreased slightly, from 43 percent in 2013 to 41 percent in 2018. Generation X is right on their heels as they begin to approach their prime giving years and will be the next generation to look out for. More than 20 percent say they expect to increase their giving in the coming year. The future of your organization lies primarily with Boomers and Gen-Xers. Despite the rumors, Millennials are still many years away.

Donor Attitudes and Values by Generation

For all generations, health, religion and local social services are among the top giving priorities for donors. Although, there are some notable differences among generations. For example, the older you are, the more likely you are to emphasize emergency relief. The inverse is true for children’s charities. The younger generations also have a greater emphasis on animal-related causes.

Donation channels

Since 2010, with the exception of social media, the use of giving channels has remained static or declined across the board. There are many possible answers for why these channels are changing. One possibility could be that organizations have not been harnessing their potential on newer channels. A second possibility could be that donors are overwhelmed by the number of channels that are available. As expected, the direct mail channel has had the sharpest decline since the digital era emerged. The real issue is that one digital channel has not filled the void from the decline of direct mail. This should be concerning for fundraising professionals and something to keep an eye out for. Fundraiser need to learn more about which channels to use to reach donors effectively and continue to build relationships with them.

For more information on generational giving, check out the full webinar presentation here.

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