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Generational Wisdom: Which Generation is Most Generous?

With Generation X and Millennial giving on the rise, many nonprofits have been asking: Should we increase our focus on younger generations?

The answer to this question is both yes and no.

Generation X has officially passed up the Mature generation in total giving, according to a recent report conducted by Blackbaud. And as a giving group “on the rise,” Gen-Xers should not be overlooked in any fundraising strategy.

That being said, Baby Boomers still come out on top as the most generous generation in terms of total giving — though Generation X is not far behind — in part because Baby Boomers continue to be a much larger cohort.

Although declining in numbers, the Mature generation continues to remain very generous and must not be forgotten. Meanwhile, even as Millennial giving has increased in recent years, they still lag behind Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Matures in total giving.

At BBS & Associates, we recently conducted a research study, in conjunction with Campbell Rinker and collaborating with 11 ministries, to focus on the similarities and differences between donors who are active and donors who have stopped giving. Differences between generations were also analyzed. Our findings echoed many of those from other generational giving studies. Here is a quick summary of what we discovered:

Generational giving by the numbers.

One additional fact that stood out to us regarding generations: When asked what channel of communication donors most pay attention to, both Matures and Baby Boomers stated they pay the most attention to direct mail. Generation X and Millennials said they pay the most attention to email.

There are two important implications to this finding:

  1. It’s critical to have a multi-channel fundraising effort, with each channel portraying the same message.
  2. Segment your data wherever possible to make sure donors are getting your message in the channel they prefer (and will likely respond to) the most.

Bottom line: Baby Boomers continue to remain the most generous generation — and, given their size, you can expect them to hold this spot for at least the next 10 years. Generation X is not far behind, as many of these donors are beginning to enter their prime giving years. While it is important to include a focus on Millennials, their time in the sun is still many years away.

If you are interested in additional information about the giving habits of each generation, please contact Jared Matthews.