Challenging Giving Perceptions: Generation Y vs. Baby Boomers

When it comes to fundraising, there seems to be a frenzied dash to solicit Generation Y (also known as Millennials), comprising donors aged 18 to 32 years.

After all, the ALS ice bucket challenge raised millions; Barack Obama’s fundraising success of 2008 and 2012 targeting youth got him elected twice; and with the help of young people the Invisible Children’s Joseph Kony video went viral.
As a result, many charities are rushing to solicit younger groups, looking for that allusive new pot of gold. Before you jump on the bandwagon though, here are three facts to consider:

Fact 1: Older donors continue to give more than younger donors

Of the $61.9 billion contributed to U.S. charities in 2013, here is a breakdown of donations by age groups:
Giving Trends

Fact 2: The biggest increase in population in the U.S. was Baby Boomers

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau (April 2014) shows:

  • The number of seniors aged 65 and over increased 14% between 2006 and 2011 to nearly 77 million.
  • This rate of growth was higher than that of children aged 14 and under (0.5%) and people aged 15 to 64 (5.7%).

Seniors accounted for a record high of 24.3% of the total U.S. population of approximately 315 million.

  • About 45% of donors over 65 years of age still support more than one cause.
  • On average Boomers support 4.5 causes.
  • The average and median amounts of annual giving tend to increase with age. For example, Boomers (65+) made average annual donations of $1,781, compared with $698 by Generation Y & X, and Matures who made an average donation of $1,551.

Fact 3: Baby boomers will hold 70% of the wealth within the next 4 years

Baby Boomers account for about 50% of consumer packaged goods spending and will control 70% of disposable income within the next 4 years. (Source: Nielsen Study) Boomers are also set to inherit approximately $8.4 trillion from their grandparents, parents and others.

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