How old is the typical U.S. donor?
] 35 years of age
[ ] 50 years of age
[ ] 75 years of age
Donors aged 65 and older
comprise (by far) the largest slice of the American charity pie.
Those under age 35 make up the smallest slice of the same pie.
In 2017, one of America’s top 10 brand-name charities, a group serving the homeless and addicted, analyzed its vast donor database by age. Its largest group of “active” (i.e., repeat) donors was 87 years old on average. Its largest group of first-time (i.e., new) donors was age 70 on average.
Even in Australia, a philanthropic market that vigorously courts younger donors, older donors end up ruling the roost. Sean Triner, co-founder of Pareto, that country’s largest direct mail and phone fundraising agency, ran the numbers. He simply concluded: “Older donors are better.” Why? They tend to stick longer and hence give more in total.
Are younger people less generous? Not at all. But they lack one essential: money to give away.
Young adults are building lives. They’re buying stuff. They’re forming and furnishing households. They are as caring and concerned and compassionate as anyone else. But unless they were born with the proverbial silver spoon, they probably don’t have all that much disposable income to throw around (especially if they choose to have children, an expensive proposition in America).
And then things change.
“At age 55,” Jeff Brooks observed, “people start to become reliably charitable. They’re starting to have some extra money.” There is some surplus in their wallets: the kids are launched, the house is almost paid for. “Then households begin giving to charity,” said Jeff. “And their giving ramps up until age 65, where it levels off.