Baby boomers are largest group of donors

Baby boomers give the most to charitable foundations. In the U.S., this generation is responsible for 43 percent of all dollars donated, according to a new study from Blackbaud. Meanwhile, nonprofits are engaging donors on multiple channels, but the right mix depends on the generation.

The study asked approximately 1,000 people about their giving habits, and the respondents were broken up into four age cohorts. For many causes, the most prominent group of donors is people older than 50. Online donation services are becoming more popular, even among older generations. For the first time, online gifts from baby boomers outpaced contributions from direct mail solicitations sent to these individuals. This generation is expected to be a powerful force of support for nonprofits for some time. Online gifts are also growing in popularity among "Matures," those born before 1945. More than one-quarter of this generation supported an organization online.

Across generations, the majority of Americans give to charity, and 88 percent of Matures donate. However, baby boomers make up the largest group of donors numerically. Sixty percent of Generation Y makes contributions to nonprofits, but this group wants accountability from the organizations they support. The ability to see the impact of their contribution is a deciding factor in making a gift for millennials. This is not as important for older generations.

The types of organizations donors supported depended on the generation as well. Boomers and mature donors are more likely to give to veterans' causes. Gen X and Gen Y favor supporting children's charities, human rights and international causes. Gen Y was less likely to donate to environmental causes compared to other generations. 

The donation patterns or preferences of different generations will continue to shape the way nonprofits target donors. A multichannel approach to engagement will remain important. 

Back to News