Generation X-tra generous: why every charity should have Gen X in its sights

We’ve all read the studies and articles hailing Millennials and their successors, Generation Z, as the future of philanthropic giving (we’ve even written a few ourselves). But while their shared love of social activism makes these youngsters great volunteer material, new research undertaken by Blackbaud reveals that it’s in fact their Gen X predecessors (those born between 1965 and 1980) who are the nation’s most generous and prolific donors.

The Next Generation of Australian and New Zealander Giving is a white paper from the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Giving which examines the giving habits of Gen Zers, Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and Matures. According to the study, almost three-quarters of Gen Xers donate to charity, collectively contributing $2.5 billion each year. This makes up 36% of total giving in 2018 – the largest of any generation by a good stretch.

So, which causes are these generous folks donating their hard-earned dollars to? What are their giving habits and preferences? Read on for everything you need to know about the Age of X.

Three reasons to turn your focus to Generation X

1. There’s more of them.

Let’s start with the obvious: the bigger the pool of potential donors, the greater the fundraising opportunity. According to the Blackbaud research, 4 million Gen Xers donate to charity each year, compared to just 1.7 million regular donors from the Mature demo, and 3.7 million Baby Boomers.

Gen Z and Millennials combined make up an impressive 5 million philanthropically-minded individuals, but, crucially, the average amount they give each year is significantly less than any other generation. While the more financially-secure Gen Xers give a generous $625 per year on average, their younger cohorts average out at a little over half that amount ($338 per year).

2. They’re more loyal.

In an ideal world, your donors would give all of their charity dollars to you and you alone – but the reality is that most donors like to spread the love a little and have several favourite causes. While this is still true of Gen X, they are more selective than other generations, giving to 3.8 charities on average every year. By contrast, Gen Z and Millennials share their donations across 5 different causes, while Matures average at 4.5.

Combined with the higher giving averages, that means that investing time in winning Gen X donors is likely to result in better fundraising outcomes as they are more consistent and selective about where they donate.

3. They’re on a roll.

While around 15% of Gen Xers say they may have to decrease their donations in the coming year, the good news is that over 60% say they intend to maintain their current giving commitments or even increase them. Clearly, as those born towards the tail end of the generation reach their late thirties and early forties, they are becoming more financially established and joining the rest of their generation on an upward trajectory.

The Giving Habits of Gen X Donors

The Blackbaud study contains some killer insights for charities looking to target Gen X-ers. We’ve pulled out a few fast facts to help you build your next fundraising strategy:

Human rights causes are a big drawcard. For every demographic except Matures, the top 3 giving priorities remain the same: health, children and animals (in that order). However, Gen Xers are the only group which demonstrates a clear preference for human rights-based charities.

It’s (mostly) all about the money. Like their older cohorts, 48% of Gen Xers still believe that donating money is the most valuable way they can support their chosen charities. This contrasts greatly with the youngest generations, who place an almost equal value on volunteering, along with other less traditional forms of support.

Nonetheless, they’ve been quick to embrace peer-to-peer fundraising both as participants and supporters. Gen X is the second most active generation when it comes to P2P (second to Millennials/Gen Z). Close to 20% have taken part in a run-walk-ride event while a quarter have sponsored an individual.

Giving via mobile and social get the thumbs up. Gen X is the demographic most comfortable donating via social media, with 14% saying they have used this method (the other groups don’t even reach double digits). The majority (51%) are also highly receptive to giving via their mobile device. In contrast, just 27% of Baby Boomers and 11% of Matures would be willing to do the same.

The workplace is an untapped giving opportunity. Along with their younger cohorts, Gen Xers are very much open to donating via workplace channels – but while the appetite is there, the opportunities to get involved are less so. 68% say they would be keen to participate in a workplace fundraiser (just over a third have done so). Similarly, 61% would be willing to donate via work if their employer matched it, yet just 14% have actually donated via this method.

Like what you’ve read so far? Download the full report to learn more!