Millennials and Charity – Perhaps the Most Philanthropic Generation of All

millennial guy donating to charity

The Millennial generation has certainly received its share of criticisms. They are reported to be self-absorbed, entitled, and shallow. They are also described as being more concerned about culture and the latest trends than things that matter. But these stereotypes are far from the truth and fail to paint an accurate picture. Millennials will soon be the largest income producers in the nation, edging past Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers—and believe it or not, Millennial philanthropy is likely to outshine its predecessors.

When it comes to Millennials and charity, many of their habits can be explained by the world that shaped them and the events that have had a tremendous effect on them. Millennial philanthropy can thus be examined from their generational influences in addition to their outlook for the future. So let’s examine it!

Millennial Philanthropy – Giving the Most Despite Hurdles

Before citing statistics about Millennials and charity, it’s first important to appreciate their unique situation. As a whole, the average Millennial owes about $37,000 in college debt. This accounts for the current $1.4 trillion in student debt in the U.S. At the same time, Millennials are notably underemployed. Among those under 20 years of age, the unemployment rate is more than 14 percent. It is clear that Millennials as a whole do not necessarily have abundant resources for charitable donations.

Despite this, Millennial philanthropy averages nearly $500 per person. While this is slightly less than Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers, Millennials are far more likely to give. In fact, the total percentage of Millennials making charitable donations is roughly 84 percent. In contrast, only 72 percent of Baby Boomers and 59 percent of Gen X-ers give to charity. Millennial philanthropy is thus on pace to surpass other generations in total amounts and percentages despite having much fewer resources.

“Despite negative stereotypes about Millennials, our survey research shows that savvy Millennials are raising the most charity-conscious generation in history.” – Art Taylor, President and CEO of Give.org [i]

The Evolution of Millennials and Charity

millennial girl giving clothes to charity

Millennials and charity donations may seem a little unusual at first glance. However, Millennial philanthropy shouldn’t be that surprising. After all, this generation grew up in an era that has embraced the “sharing economy.” Likewise, Millennials value experiences, which charitable giving certainly offers. Combine this with increased global awareness about climate change and expanding human populations, and suddenly Millennial philanthropy isn’t so shocking.

But Millennials and charity go hand in hand for other reasons as well. This generation also grew up in the age of digitalization, where electronic giving is much easier. Similarly, social media has increased the awareness of the many charitable needs throughout the world. This has led to a third of Millennials routinely giving through crowdfunding sites. And Millennials not only given from their pockets. More than 40 percent donate clothes and food while more than a quarter volunteer their time. Also, Millennials are known to be more interested in choosing socially aware employers. Statistics show that 82 percent pick an employer at least in part based on their social mission. It’s hard to portray this generation as self-absorbed and lazy when these facts are taken into account.

“The way that millennials tend to give is through these random one-off, peer-to-peer asks…It’s very reactive giving.” – Rachel Klausner, founder and CEO of Millie, a charitable donation app [ii]

Millennial Philanthropy Involves More than Just Giving

When it comes to Millennials and charity, a different approach is typically needed to attract their interest. New apps like “Millie” facilitate Millennial philanthropy by personalizing giving through shared stories. Other important strategies that attract Millennial philanthropy involve asking beyond monetary donations.

As a group, Millennials take charitable giving seriously. More than half routinely research a charity before donating time or money.

In essence, Millennials believe they can change the world for the better. And based on recent trends, Millennial philanthropy is on pace to do just that.


[i] Notte, J. (2018). Why Millennials Are More Charitable Than the Rest of You. The Street. Retrieved from https://www.thestreet.com/story/14445741/1/why-millennials-are-more-charitable.html
[iiPaynter, B. (2019). This app is designed to get millennials addicted to giving. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/90321094/this-app-is-designed-to-get-millennials-addicted-to-giving

About the Author

Ellen Madden studied Communications and Women & Gender Studies at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. She is navigating motherhood while working and celebrating life in Tampa, FL where she grew up. Ellen is a food lover and is learning the art of writing as she goes along.
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