According to The Next Generation of American Giving, in 2018 there were roughly 34.1 million Millennial donors, underscoring that 51% of Millennials give to charity. Per capita, a Millennial donor gives $591 per year on average and gives to 3.5 charities per year. As a generation, Millennials contribute $20.1 billion to charities per year.
Contrary to the widespread attention they have garnered, Millennials remain many years away from what prime giving years for most donors have traditionally been. In 2018, roughly 34 million Millennials contributed 14% of all money donated, which is less than 23% donated by Gen-Xers and 41% donated by Boomers.
Millennial giving beckons several questions about life stage and generational values. Historically, most giving has come from people in middle age and older, and for practical reasons. The demands of building careers and raising families often leaves little room or disposable income for philanthropy. Millennials are not only at a life stage dominated by career and family priorities; they also have inherited a level of economic uncertainty, student debt, and career landscape in which nothing can be taken for granted. Millennials will undoubtedly rise as a force to be reckoned with, though that day remains far from imminent.
In general, the younger you are, the more open you are to a wider range of solicitation channels. While digital natives like Millennials are open to platforms like direct mail, they show a significantly higher preference to donate via websites (which 40% of Millennials prefer) or social media (which 17% prefer). They are also significantly more likely than older generations to give via social media or Text/SMS.
In addition to their preferred giving platforms, nearly half of Millennials say that they like to promote the causes they support on their social media pages, followed by roughly one-third of all Gen-Xers, hinting at the potential for increased social media engagement and peer-to-peer fundraising.
For the foreseeable future, your organization’s primary drivers of financial support may lie with Boomers and Gen-Xers. Near-term expectations for Millennial and Gen-Z giving may fall short as these generations preoccupy themselves with making a living, raising children, or finding security in the financial market. Consider your investment in building relationships with Millennials to be experimental, and likelier to produce long-term benefits with these givers. Your organization can take steps to commit to strategies like testing and segmentation while harnessing the platforms of choice for this generation, including social media, online giving, and crowdfunding.