Life stage may be an additional factor affecting the degree to which women and men donate and involve themselves with charitable causes. General trends demonstrate that while early and mid-career professionals, like Millennials, continue to establish themselves in their careers or family lives, they are typically less able to increase their engagement with charitable causes. Women may be less likely to increase their involvement if they take on primary childcare responsibilities within the household or enter in and out of the workforce.
Reflecting these trends, a study by Fidelity Charitable found that 63% of Millennial women reported feeling torn between giving to charity and holding on to money for personal needs.1 By comparison, 41% of Boomer-aged women felt that way. This difference highlights how life stage may affect women’s’ perceived and actual abilities to become more involved with charitable causes.
While spending tends to decline for individuals in retirement, this does not necessarily impact charitable giving. According to The Next Generation of American Giving, older generations like Baby Boomers and Matures remain among the most generous donors. Baby Boomers, alone, donated roughly $60 billion to nonprofits in 2017, making up 41% of all donations in that period.2 Further research shows that both men and women tend to maintain their charitable giving around retirement age, with several differences in their patterns of giving.
The Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University shows that giving by single retirees differs by gender. Giving by both single women and married couples tends to remain stable throughout retirement, however, giving by single men tends to fluctuate. Giving by single, male retirees initially decreases before eventually stabilizing to match the giving of single women and married retirees. While charitable giving remains a priority for both men and women, single male retirees tend to differ in their patterns of giving over time.
There are additional insights into the volunteering behaviors of male and female retirees. While studies like The Next Generation of American Giving show that older generations like Boomers and Matures are less likely to engage in volunteer activities, additional research has found that single women are married couples are more likely to volunteer than single men. Overall, single women are the only group to increase their volunteering after retirement, with a 4.7% increase in rates of participation.3