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Generosity from Generation to Generation

Generous Millennials

Canadians are generous givers – the third most generous in the world when charitable giving is expressed as a percentage of GDP[1]. However, the face of charitable giving in Canada is changing. According to the latest report[2], in 2014 approximately 30% fewer tax-filers claimed charitable donations compared to the highest year on record (1990). At the same time, the average amount claimed has nearly doubled. It should be noted that in 1990 only 29.5% of tax-filers claimed charitable donations and the average amount claimed was $887. Generous people are giving more. However, there are fewer people giving. The trend is clear. Charities now rely on a shrinking number of donors to fund the important work that they do.

The Baby Boomers’[3] peak donation rate (29.7% in 2005) was lower than the peak donation rate of all earlier generations on record[4]. Gen-Xers[5] are now approaching their prime giving years and, although their average donations are increasing, research suggests this downward trend in peak donation rates will continue to accelerate for both Gen X and the Millennials[6].

Millennials will soon become the largest segment of the Canadian population.

Canada’s population is getting older and so are the donors. In 1985 the median age of Canadians was 30.6 years; by 2014 that had increased to 40.4 years. The bulk of donations receipted in Canada in 2014 were given by people aged 50 and older. They accounted for almost three quarters of all donations, with 30% of total donations coming from people older than 70.

These statistics could indicate that the charitable sector’s best days are in the rear-view mirror. However, the future is not without hope.

Currently, Millennials and Boomers account for more than half of the Canadian population (Millennials 27%, Boomers 28%). Millennials will soon become the largest segment of the Canadian population. Researchers claim that the future giving habits of this generation is one of the most significant uncertainties regarding the future of donations in our country[7].

These young adults have a global and multicultural perspective in their giving and living choices, and they want to make a difference. They are less committed to supporting a specific charity and more likely to support institutions that address the causes they care about. It is critical that they trust the organizations to which they are donating, and that the charity has a compelling mission or cause[8]. When these boxes are checked, Millennials and their Generation Z[9] peers are passionate about the causes they support. With their numbers and their passion, these generations represent an unprecedented potential for giving – we just need to find the spark that will set their generosity ablaze.

The statistics quoted in this article indicate that there is much research being done on birth cohorts and generational giving trends, and the conclusions are often less than optimistic. My experience at Abundance Canada tells a different story. Every day, I have the privilege of seeing intergenerational generosity in action. We work with people across all birth cohorts; from the Silent Generation through to Millennials and Gen Z, helping them put their generosity plans into action. This gives me great hope. Our clients are building a legacy of generosity that flows from generation to generation, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Statistics could indicate that the charitable sector’s best days are in the rear-view mirror. However, the future is not without hope. Here's why:Click to Tweet

 

Rick Braun Janzen

 

 

Contributed by Rick Braun-Janzen
Director of Finance

 

  • [1] 30 Years of Giving in Canada, 2018, Rideau Hall Foundation and Imagine Canada
  • [2] 30 Years of Giving in Canada, 2018, Rideau Hall Foundation and Imagine Canada
  • [3] Born between 1946 and 1965
  • [4] 30 Years of Giving in Canada, 2018, Rideau Hall Foundation and Imagine Canada
  • [5] Born between 1966 and 1980
  • [6] Born between 1981 and 1996
  • [7] 30 Years of Giving in Canada, 2018, Rideau Hall Foundation and Imagine Canada
  • [8] The Millennial Generation Research Review, 2012, National Chamber Foundation
  • [9] Born 1997 and later

An excerpt from our latest annual report!

 

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