Are Millennials the Most Generous Generation?

By Jen Williamson Updated on May 13, 2019

A recent report shows that even though many millennials are battling some serious debt, they're more likely than other generations to lend a charitable hand. 

Millennials' patterns and types of giving also reveal some other interesting contrasts with previous generations. Let's take a closer look. 


What millennials owe

According to the Federal Reserve, the average person in their 20s in the U.S. owes about $22,135 in student loan debt. The average student loan payment is $351 per month.

And for most millennials, that payment is hardly a comfortable one. Approximately 51% report being underemployed—a 10% leap in the past three years—and millennial unemployment rates are about three times higher than the national average.

See also: Everything You Need to Know About Student Loan Refinancing

What millennials give

According to a recent Blackbaud report, millennials give an average of $481 per year—which is less than Baby Boomers ($1,212) and members of Generation X ($732) if you're strictly looking at dollars.

However, 84% of millennials give to charity—which is more than Baby Boomers and Generation X. So while millennials may have less to give, more of them do it anyway.

They’re also changing how charitable donations are made. In 2016, overall charitable giving increased only 1%, but online giving went up 7.9%—and much of that is driven by millennials.

Millennials are also more careful with the dollars they donate. According to, approximately 60% of relief dollars earned after hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma came from millennials. And millennials were also more likely than any other generation to research hurricane charities before giving.

See also: 2 Surprisingly Positive Lessons I Learned From Having Student Loans

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More informed donations

Millennials also more likely than any other generation to demand transparency. Approximately 57% reported wanting to know the impact of their individual donation, and about 28% follow their beneficiaries on social media. They're also more likely than other generations to expect regular updates from charities on how their dollars are spent and who they helped.

Millennials want to know how their donation made a difference—on a personal level. They’re much more likely to be moved by individual appeals than by a large, well-known charitable organization. 

This way of giving fits perfectly with the new crowdfunding trend—which is now a multi-billion dollar industry. Through platforms like Indiegogo and GoFundMe, donors can hear individual stories, get frequent updates, and see how their donation helped a specific person or cause.

Crowdfunding has been a huge disruptor of charitable giving in recent years, and Millennials have been driving that trend. They make up approximately 33% of donations to crowdfunding platforms, according to a recent study by Massolution.

Millennials also put pressure on corporate America. A recent Nielsen report states that 73% of Millennials worldwide will pay more for sustainable products—compared with 66% of global consumers overall.

The takeaway? Millennials may have fewer dollars to give—but they’re having a huge impact on charity as a whole by turning to crowdsourcing, demanding more accountability and transparency, and expecting more from companies.

That’s something this generation can be proud of.

Got student loans? Want to reduce your monthly payments? Check out the Student Loan Refinance Calculator to see how much you could save.

Published in: Financial Freedom

About the Author
Jen Williamson

Jen Williamson is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. She has written for a variety of industries, including software, education, business, and personal finance. Prior to that, she worked at an adult literacy nonprofit in Philadelphia, where she coached nontraditional students in passing the GED test and applying for college. When she isn’t writing or reading—which is rare—she can usually be found planning her next travel adventure, training for a marathon, or sneaking in somewhere she’s not supposed to be. Read more by Jen Williamson