Episode 17: Are Millennials Really So Selfish?

Millennials often get blamed for killing entire industries, from cars and diamonds to malls, fast casual restaurants and cable television. Apparently, they spend so much on avocado toast that they can’t afford a mortgage (or that could be the result of their crushing college debt and coming of age in the Great Recession). But Millennials also have a heart, often looking to do good whether working for a nonprofit or a for-profit.

Two researchers at Princeton University took a closer look at charitable donations to analyze how the philanthropic behavior of Millennials compares to earlier generations. “Are Millennials Really So Selfish? Preliminary evidence from the Philanthropy Panel Study” was published by Harvey Rosen, The John L. Weinberg Professor of Economics and Business Policy Emeritus at Princeton University, and recent Princeton graduate Peter Koczanski.

Harvey Rosen

The pair found that Millennials appear to be “substantially less likely” to make a charitable gift than previous generations. However, when controlling for differences in their ages, incomes, wealth and other factors, when Millennials do make a donation gift, they’re likely to donate more than previous generations — as some 15 percent more. Rosen and Koczanski join this month’s Fresh Research podcast episode to discuss how they came up with the research idea, what might be behind Millennial giving, as well as religious and secular giving among among Millennials.

“It could be…that the transition to adulthood is coming later in the life cycle for recent generations. Alternatively, generational theory focuses our attention on differences in formative experiences across generations. Millennials came of age during the Great Recession, which could have affected their attitudes toward philanthropy,” they write in the paper.

Peter Koczanski

Millennials are considered those born from about 1980 to 1996, coming after Generation X (1965-1980) and the Baby Boomers (1946-1964), who are entering their prime giving years. The oldest Millennials are approaching 40 years old, starting their families and perhaps beginning their philanthropic careers in earnest. The youngest of this generation are in their mid-20s, perhaps recent college graduates and likely not thinking as much about charitable giving but building the foundation of their career.

Episode 18: A Closer Look At 2018 Giving...

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Giving USA estimated that charitable giving in the United States was $427.71 billion overall in 2018, a less-than-1-percent increase over the $424.74 billion for 2017, according to preliminary estimates from “Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018,” released last month. Adjusted for inflation, giving was actually down 1.7 percent over the […]

Episode 17: Are Millennials Really So Selfish?...

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Millennials often get blamed for killing entire industries, from cars and diamonds to malls, fast casual restaurants and cable television. Apparently, they spend so much on avocado toast that they can’t afford a mortgage (or that could be the result of their crushing college debt and coming of age in the Great Recession). But Millennials […]

Episode 16: M+R Benchmarks Study...

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The 13th annual M+R Benchmarks Study is chock full of data almost as far as the eye can see. That’s what happens when you analyze 4.4 million emails sent to 37.5 million email addresses, more than 7 million online gifts and $376 million raised, all from a variety of 135 nonprofits of all shapes and […]

Episode 15: Reciprocity Decays Over Time...

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Waiting a month to ask for a gift decreases the likelihood of a donation by 30 percent. That’s according to research on positive reciprocity that looked at more than 18,000 donation solicitations by a university hospital system. “Field study of charitable giving reveals that reciprocity decays over time” was published by Judd Kesssler, associate professor […]

Episode 14: Donor-Advised Fund Grants During Recessions...

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Donor-advised funds (DAF) have become one of the fastest-growing vehicles for philanthropy in the past decade. They also have become a lightning rod in the debate about charitable giving, described by skeptics as a “Wall Street takeover of charity.” Other critics argue that that donors can receive a tax deduction for contributions to their DAF account but the […]

Episode 13: Anatomy of a Mega Merger...

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Two of the two largest data and information nonprofit organizations in the United States announced a merger on Feb. 1. The Foundation Center and GuideStar will become Candid after almost two years of discussions on a merger that has its origins at least a decade in the making. Brad Smith, president of the Foundation Center, will be president of Candid, […]

Episode 12: Gilded Giving + Giving Circles...

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More charitable giving than ever is coming from high-income households while the donor universe has been shrinking for years. Those are some of the concerns identified in “Gilded Giving 2018: Top Heavy Philanthropy and Its Perils to the Independent Sector and Democracy.” Chuck Collins directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the […]

Episode 11: Volunteer Rates + The Philanthropic Closet...

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Part 1: Robert Grimm & Nathan Dietz Where are America’s volunteers? That’s literally the question posed, and answered, by a new study from the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy: “Where Are America’s Volunteers? A Look At America’s Widespread Decline in Volunteering in Cities and States.” Robert Grimm, director of the Do […]

Episode 10: Executive Teams + Income Inequality...

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Part 1: Libbie Landles-Cobb Only about half of nonprofits surveyed agreed that their executive team communicates to others. Two-thirds agreed that their teams focus on the right work or use their time effectively. Now, that’s not Michael Scott-level executive management but it could use some work. The Bridgespan Group has come up with what it calls […]

Episode 9: Nonprofit Overhead + Global Trends in Giving...

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Your browser does not support the audio element. Part 1: Jason Coupet and Jessica Haynie Nonprofit overhead seems to be the most popular way to evaluate nonprofits, although even watchdogs that made program and expense ratios a focus are trying to come up with other ways to measure an organization’s effectiveness. Jason Coupet, assistant professor […]

Episode 8: Too Many Nonprofits? + Nonprofit Collaboration...

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Your browser does not support the audio element. Part 1: Rebecca Nesbit and Laurie Paarlberg Hardly a day goes by when someone isn’t questioning whether there are too many nonprofits in the United States. True, there are more than 1.5 million organizations, twice as many as two decades ago, but a group of researchers looked […]

Episode 7: Giving in Retirement + Effective Altruism...

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Your browser does not support the audio element. Some 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 every day for at least the next decade, and those older than 65 already represent about 15 percent of the total population. With that in mind, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) released “How Women & Men Give Around Retirement” to help the […]

Episode 6: Donor Retention + Diversity In Nonprofit Tech...

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Your browser does not support the audio element. Online fundraising trends continue to point to growth within mobile, so it’s not a surprise to see another study confirming what’s been happening of late. “The State of Modern Philanthropy: Examining Online Fundraising Trends,” from San Diego, Calif.-based Classy,  examines data from more than 3,500 organizations and more than […]

Episode 5: New Giving USA Numbers + Diversity In Nonprofit Leadership...

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Your browser does not support the audio element. A flurry of natural disasters, a booming stock market and strong economy, and more mega gifts all contributed to another record year for charitable giving in 2017. Charitable giving in the United States hit another record, cracking the $400 billion level for the first time ever. Giving […]

Episode 4: Mobile Trends + Jewish Philanthropy...

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Your browser does not support the audio element. The M+R Benchmarks Report has become one of the most anticipated studies of the year. For more than a decade, it has tracked trends and data for nonprofits, ranging from email open and response rates to social media and mobile fundraising. This year’s study collected data from 154 nonprofits about […]

Episode 3: Founder Transitions + Studying Millennials...

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Conventional wisdom has always suggested that a nonprofit make a clean break from its founder, to avoid the dreaded "Founder's Syndrome" but according to research by Jari Tuomala and Donald Yeh of The Bridgespan Group, organizations can benefit when they carefully plan an extended role for founders who step down. The largest generation since the Baby Boomers has finally come of age, with the oldest now approaching 40 and the youngest in their mid-20s. Derrick Feldmann has been studying millennials for almost a decade. He's founder of The Millennial Impact Project, which puts out an annual study of millennial cause engagement that examines "the subject through a new lens each year since 2008." The latest research is the 2017 Millennial Impact Report: "An Invigorated Generation for Causes and Social Issues."

Episode 2: Nonprofit Digital Teams + Baby Boomer Retirements...

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Digital leaders on senior nonprofit management teams can make a huge difference. So why doesn’t every organization do it? That’s part of the discussion with Jason Mogus, principal strategist at NetChange Consulting, and Austen Levine-Coon, digital organizing director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. They surveyed 80 advocacy organizations about their digital teams and programs. Some of the results may surprise you and there are a few new trends since the 2014 results.