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Giving Across Generations: Trends and Patterns

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Giving Across Generations: Trends and Patterns


  • The factor of age influences donations in various aspects
  • Donor behavior is affected by diversified age groups 
  • There are different ways to engage donors across each generation
  • Giving, in any way, reaps huge benefits to both the giver and the receiver

Many organizations and charities largely depend on donations for both internal and external administrative work. For instance, most importantly, external administrative work involves supporting underserved communities, raising awareness, and aiding their specific causes. While understanding the concepts of fundraising, analyzing the complex relationship between age and contribution of donors becomes vital.

There exist several researchers who have presented data on the generosity of donors. A deeper examination of the data reveals interesting tendencies among different age groups. Clearly, a wide range of variables are at play within the correlation of age and donors and are worth studying.

Does Age Translate to Less or More Dollars?

A common belief regarding donor relations is that elderly people are more likely to donate larger amounts than younger people. Several reasons or stereotypes lead to this view—older persons are kinder, have amassed more wealth, or have achieved financial security. However the truth about donation behavior according to age group is not so simple.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) reports that 41% of all charity funds come from donors over the age of 65. While this figure shows that the elderly do hold a large share of donors, a closer look allows for a more nuanced understanding. For instance, research conducted by Giving USA shows that while older donors contribute larger sums, younger donors show higher levels of involvement. Such younger donors give more frequently implying continuous long-term support.

The rise of social media engagement and digital fundraising platforms, making donations has become more convenient. The way that people are giving is changing, which calls into question long-held beliefs about age-related trends in donation behavior.

Image Credit: Pexels

What is the Age-Specific Impact on Donor Behavior?

A person’s demographic identity including age has a significant influence on their views, interests, and approaches to donating. Understanding the psyche of different age groups can help nonprofits better appeal to and garner support from their audiences.

Younger Donors

Younger donors are drawn to causes that align with their values and passions, especially the Gen Z and Millennials. Education, children’s rights, social justice, equity, health, and environmental programs are among the top areas of concern for younger contributors.

Statistics from USA Today have also indicated a growing trend of younger donors, specifically Gen Z’s. The strength in supporting LGBTQ+ rights and mental health awareness has been blooming.

  • Commonly Used Channels
    Younger donors within the range of 12 to 43 commonly use social media platforms on a day-to-day basis. For instance, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and X are leveraged to share stories and support movements that are important to them. These individual campaigns have led to the popular use of crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe.
  • Engagement Strategy
    Organizations that wish to effectively communicate their goal must make use of digital platforms to connect with them. Social media campaigns, influencer collaborations, interactive events, and outreach can be highly effective in gaining the youth’s attention and support. Gen Z’s in particular are passionate about being directly involved in causes they resonate with through volunteering and fundraising campaigns.
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Middle-aged Donors

Generation X, known as the sandwich generation, gives priority to causes falling in line with their personal values and experiences. Growing up in a corporate-dominated donation landscape, this generation conducts thorough charity research due to caution from past experiences. 

According to DefineFinancial, this group gravitates towards nonprofits supporting human services, healthcare, children, and community development among others.

  • Commonly Used Channels
    Donors between the ages of 44 to 59 have a preference for human connections even though they use internet platforms for giving. Many of them would rather make donations through known sources such as neighborhood fundraisers and workplace giving drives though they also engage on platforms such as TikTok and GoFundMe. Gen X are also more likely to volunteer their time and efforts than donate.
  • Engagement Strategy
    Highlighting tangible outcomes and offering hands-on involvement best engages Gen X with your organization, emphasizing concrete results and active participation. Open communication, testimonials, transparency, confidence, and focused fundraising events will open doors to more in-depth involvement from this generation.
Senior Donors

The baby boomers often fund charities that they believe will make a lasting impact. They are the biggest supporters of the causes concerning healthcare, children, and religious institutions, and contribute 43% of all donations.

  • Commonly Used Channels
    Donors over the age of 60 years often prefer more conventional methods of donating, such as writing cheques, giving through charitable organizations, or making contributions to donor-advised funds. However, with a larger number of older people embracing technology, they might also make a donation through social media. Platforms like TikTok and Facebook witness increased senior digital donations, reflecting the trend of older individuals engaging in online philanthropy. 
  • Engagement Strategy
    Baby boomers can be encouraged to donate by showcasing options for legacy giving stressing the transformative power of their donations. Older donors also feel a sense of belonging when they are actively engaged in legacy societies and donor appreciation events. A perception of purpose is evoked which helps show their support for future generations.

How to Probe the Giving Spirit?

Giving is not always easy. However, developing a culture of giving in each generation is essential to help the inequalities and gaps of access in our society. Understanding and nurturing altruistic motivations in individuals can drive positive impacts on nonprofits and society, by examining and encouraging behavior.

Image Credit: Pexels

The Difference Made by Donation

Donations help sustain and raise awareness about a wide range of causes. For instance, by improving education, fostering volunteerism, providing and giving resources, and increasing access leading to community development. Giving facilitates the implementation of programs by organizations and individuals, increases public awareness of significant issues, and mobilizes support. This leads to a consistent long-term effect emerging towards social impact. Moreover, the act of giving also helps foster positive energy within the donor.


Different generations have different traits and reasons for giving. From Gen Z to Boomers, each group’s social and economic contexts translate into different priorities and concerns.

While age clearly has an impact on donor behavior, understanding that giving has no age or amount restrictions is important. Regardless of age, even modest donations can profoundly benefit both recipients and the organization they support, making a meaningful impact.

Girl Power USA