Millennials and Giving: Learning to Give With Intention

Charity Matters | September 3, 2019

The kids are alright, but it may be time to provide a more accessible and responsive pathway to charitable giving

In Canada, the number of donations going into the charitable sector is declining. It’s easy to blame this on the new kids on the block, the millennials who are now active participants in the workforce and the spending economy.

Research data on millennials might tell a different story: they are overwhelmingly generous. According to a 2015 report on millennials’ giving in the United States, 84% donated to charity in 2014. Canadian research on millennials found that they earn less than older generations, but 80% still donate to charities when all forms of charitable donation are considered (including giving food/clothes and time for volunteering).

This is especially noteworthy, all things considered. Millennials (born roughly between 1980 and 1996) experienced recessions and job market fluctuations, alongside increases in tuition and overall cost of living. Sometimes labelled as selfish or self-absorbed, a high number are in fact caregivers for older family members.

A shift in charitable giving is happening

Of course, it’s evident this also so-called GenY generation gives in starkly different ways to their parents or grandparents. They are the first to grow up with computers and cell phones. As a result, snail mail callouts and loyal monthly donations to charity have been replaced with online crowdfunding and more instantaneous and reactive donations. Recurring and regular donations are seeing a decline.

Overall, Canadian economists and researchers have noted that fewer individuals are giving money to the charitable sector. Those who do give tend to be wealthy members of older generations. The bad news is that this shift could lead to a potential funding gap for services and charities in Canada of upwards of $23 billion by 2025.

Millennials can be savvy and strategic in their charitable giving

There is still hope for optimism. No doubt, millennials will have a major impact on the charitable sector. It’s essential to embrace them and their traits, for example, by moving outreach increasingly online and providing easy-to-access mobile technologies for giving.

More fundamentally, there is an opportunity to create a generation that is savvy and strategic in how they give. Millennials are showing themselves to be caring and engaged, yet simultaneously overwhelmed and under-impressed. They want to see that their contributions make an impact that is tangible or measurable. Data and responsiveness are expected from the digital natives of the millennial generation, not to mention the GenZers who are coming up behind them.

The right tools and platforms can help in navigating the giving journey

Here at Charitable Impact, we are aiming to provide a pathway for millennials to transform the charitable giving sector by inspiring them to give thoughtfully and regularly. We are doing this by providing tools and platforms for allocating funds to contribute towards their vision of the future. Our philosophy is that everyone has something to give, whether young or old. And an intentional giving journey can be undertaken whether you start with $5 or $5 million. We encourage donors to spend some time choosing a cause they feel passionate about and determine exactly how they would like to support them. For instance, setting aside funds in a donor advised fund (like an Impact Account) allows all giving to be undertaken from a single place. Our platform can help in navigating where and how giving can make an impact.

Today, we are so often inundated with news and stories that make us ask “what can I do?” The answer may lie in the simple but conscientious act of following a cause in the long term. Having a giving plan in place—starting with a few targeted causes and considering a personal budget—can help to face the overwhelm. Ultimately, here at Charitable Impact, we hope to help cultivate a sense of hope through proactive and planned giving.

We are teaching the next generation to give with our Charitable Allowance Program

We are encouraging making giving a regular and intrinsic part of the lives of the youngest generation, Gen Zers, through our Charitable Allowance program. The charitable allowance concept is relatively simple—providing children a regular allowance, but with dollars only useable in the charitable space. The complexity lies in its ‘giving away’ component. Unlike a regular allowance where children decide on how to spend money on themselves, a charitable allowance invites them to start thinking about what they care about changing in the world, and how they can personally have an impact.

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