Different generations and their involvement or potential involvement with nonprofit organizations have been the subject of much discussion in the fundraising world. Generation terms are often tossed around like frisbees in a game. Before we can discuss the impact of age groups, let’s define a few terms.
We will focus on Generation X, which is sandwiched between baby boomers and millennials. I apologize to those whose eyes glaze over when reading too many numbers (I am one of them as well).
According to the 2020 United States Census, “Born after World War II, from 1946 to 1964, the oldest boomers will turn 77 next year. When the last tally was taken in 2010, the eldest had not even turned 65. Since then, about 10,000 a day have crossed that age threshold and by 2030, all boomers will be at least age 65.” Current data indicates that 69.6 million of the baby boom generation are living in the U.S. today.
The largest cohort is the millennials as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, which defines this group as follows: “Millennials are those people born between 1982 and 2000. This means that the millennials’ age range in 2022 is between 40 and 22 years old.” They account for 73.2 million people or 21.8% of the US population.
Finally, the consensus by the Census Bureau, Pew Research Center, and others about Generation X is that this group was born between 1965 and 1980. They will be 42 to 57 years old in 2022. There are an estimated 65.1 million Gen-Xers, or 19.3% of US residents, and their influence is growing steadily. Hence, they are an ascendant generation in the scheme of things.
Insider Intelligence is a digital online consummation of two research firms: eMarketer and Business Insider Intelligence. They claim that Gen-Xers will outnumber baby boomers by 2028, which is just around the corner. The Pew Research Center claims that 30% have bachelor’s degrees, which is more than the 25% of boomers with college degrees. Further, more women than men matriculated in higher education.
Here is what is noteworthy about Gen-Xers. The Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact wrote an influential paper titled: “The Next Generation of American Giving.” In this significant document, the Institute writes “Gen-Xers are approaching what has always been prime giving years. Millennials are many years away.”
It continues, “This report finds that…Generation X has surpassed the Matures (those born before 1946) in total giving (though the older group is still giving more than Gen-Xers per capita). And, more than 20% of Gen-Xers say they expect to increase their giving in the coming year, almost twice as many as Boomers (12% say it will increase) or Matures (9%). According to Pew Research, the overall population of Gen-Xers is forecast to exceed that of Boomers sometime in 2028.”
The Institute concludes, “The numbers carry an important message for fundraisers. In the foreseeable future, your organization’s financial well-being lies primarily with Boomers and Gen-Xers. This is not to suggest Millennials should be ignored, but the case can be made that many pay them more heed right now than is prudent.”
Here are some more eye-popping numbers to numb your retina, but worth your time, courtesy of our friends at Blackbaud.
1. 55% of Gen-Xers in America donate to a charity.
2. Despite being a smaller generation, they give more than 23% of all charitable dollars. Boomers give 41% and Millennials only give 14%.
3. They’re also very charitable with their time: 24% believe volunteering has the greatest impact.
4. They’re more likely than any other generation to use Google search to find info on charities (60%).
5. 37% give online through a charity’s website.
6. 14% give via mail, and 9% through social media.
7. 31% connect with nonprofits once a month through e-newsletters.
For professional fundraisers, the implications are significant. In a recent webinar led by Patrick Schmitt, the co-CEO and co-founder of FreeWill, a social venture founded at Stanford University that has raised almost $6 billion for charities and nonprofits, he noted that Gen-Xers’ “giving capacity is quickly growing and will soon be your most affluent donors.” Furthermore, he indicated that “with a rising share of total wealth, they’ll be more likely to make larger, regular donations than other generations…They also care about tax-friendly gifts.” Schmitt recommends getting Gen-Xers to give stock and crypto contributions because it will save them the capital gains taxes.
Elon Musk, Kanye West, Jeff Bezos, Gordon Ramsay and Tiger Woods are just some of the notable Gen-Xers. Those who have left a mark on society like these, do so in more ways than one. Failing to recognize their potential for giving would be a serious mistake.
As the popular 70s show, The Jeffersons said: “We’re moving on up.” It might be wise to keep an eye on Gen-Xers, once known as the “latch-key children” or “middle child” generation. They will likely act as an upward mobility engine for your development campaigns.
Norman B. Gildin is the author of the popular book on nonprofit fundraising “Learn From My Experiences.” He is the President of Strategic Fundraising Group, whose singular mission is to assist nonprofits to raise critical funds for their organization. His website is