Episode 7: Giving in Retirement + Effective Altruism

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 philanthropy sector understand more about how women and men give around retirement since Baby Boomers not only make up the largest section of philanthropic giving but many are now in or approaching their golden years.

Debra Mesch, professor of philanthropic studies and the Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, talks about the findings within the 32-page report that examines how women and men give around retirement. The study did not look at planning giving but focused on annual giving and consumption trends among retirees.

Mesch shares some of what fundraisers and charities should be aware of when it comes to giving and volunteering by married couples, single men and single women.


If donors were just provided all the right information about how effective a nonprofit is, surely they would give to the most effective charities, right? Maybe. But maybe not.

Deborah Small, professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and co-authors Jonathan Berman, Alixandra Barasch and Emma Levine, examine the extent to which effectiveness information leads people to choose more effective charities in “Impediments to Effective Altruism: The Role of Subjective Preferences in Charitable Giving.”

Despite being provided with relevant information on effectiveness of a charity, donors still tend to give to organizations that they want to give to, whether they have  a connection to it or one that tugs their heartstrings. Effectiveness information has limited impact on donor decisions although Small presents two scenarios in the research in which donors did tilt toward effectiveness when giving.