Fundraising Research

Millennials + Giving

by Rick Dunham, Founder+CEO

We recently conducted a study on millennial donors and their behavior. We wanted to look at how they differ from other generations and what we could learn as this generation matures in terms of charitable giving.

In 2015, the US Census showed millennials as the largest generation ever at 83 million people.

And when you examine the spread of giving in America, millennials today represent more than one out of ten dollars given to charity… a pretty significant number.

So let’s unpack some general findings around the giving behavior of millennials.

What They’re Giving

First, there’s quite a significant difference between the average amount given by a millennial over a 12-month period compared to Gen Xers, boomers, and matures. In fact, $580 is the average amount given by millennials. That compares to $799 for Gen Xers and jumps all the way up to $1,365 for boomers. It then drops slightly to $1,093 for matures. When comparing to other countries, it’s fairly flat and there’s not a huge variance between generations.

I believe this is partly due to the charitable sector in America and the commitment to charity that has been a historic hallmark for generations. We also have a much more incentivized charitable sector with the charitable tax deduction. In America today, there’s well over 1.2 million 501(c)(3) organizations, which are tax-exempt organizations that can offer a charitable tax deduction.

And in general, millennials in America are giving more.

Who They’re Giving to

In America, giving to religion is the primary recipient of the charitable dollar for millennials. In fact, places of worship and faith-based nonprofits are the two sectors where millennials give first.

When examining these findings, we looked for a correlation between giving to religion and actual religious involvement. I was stunned to find that one out of four US millennial donors attends religious services at least once a week.

And while millennials are attending church once a week 25% of the time, Gen Xers are attending once a week 27% of the time and boomers, 28%. So there’s really not a huge spread between the various generations. I believe much of the talk around millennial donors and their participation in religious services has to do with being unaffiliated, as more and more people of faith are unaffiliated today.


Another factor we examined was the involvement of millennial donors in volunteering. The narrative in the marketplace is that millennials generally are most likely to volunteer. We also know that there’s a strong correlation between donating and volunteering.

In fact, between the US, UK, and Australia millennials, US millennials are much more likely to volunteer at an average of 40 hours per year, 30 hours per year for UK, and 28 hours for millennials in Australia.

But interestingly enough, when you look at the generations here in America, the data clearly shows that millennials are not necessarily more likely to volunteer than other generations.

There’s so much more to say about our study on the giving patterns of millennials! So be sure to check out my course Millennial Donors: They’re Not Who You Think They Are at the Dunham Institute.

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Ready to take the next step? Dunham+Company is here to help your organization have more impact and establish deeper relationships with your donors and supporters. Contact Bethany Cranfield at 469-454-0100 to get more information. 

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