• Laura Bennett

Five Living Generations – Five Styles of Giving

One of the professionals I admire most is working on his doctorate degree with a thesis that takes a look at the Five Living Generations. Each time we are together, Mark Brewer, who heads the Community Foundation of Central Florida, tells me more about the differences of these consumers – and I have found it fascinating.

Today I asked him for permission to share a piece he wrote recently about how each generation differs in giving back. Here is what Mark Brewer (www.myCFCF.org) had to say:

Community investment is not a business. While many charities have resorted to private-sector-like marketing and fundraising strategies, giving is still something that comes from the heart and one’s personal experience. Today, with five living generations in America, not everyone thinks about charitable giving the same way.

From the GI Generation (all over 85) to the Millennial Generation (all under 28), each generation has a defined way of looking at civic engagement, volunteering, and charitable giving.

The concept that people of wealth should give back belongs mostly to the GI Generation (over 85), the other four generations are more interested in passing wealth to their children before giving to charity.

The Silent Generation (69 to 84) is the generation that made America’s middle class. The hard working and polite Silent generation believed in their ability to go to work in the mail room and through hard work and perseverance end up at the top of the company. These values defined the generation and were first described by popular author William Whyte in the 1950s book “The Organization Man.” By the 1980s, the Silents had outlived the value of working for one corporation or employer and on Black Friday in 1987 they lost more than $600 billion of their retirement in a mini-crash of the market.

Baby Boomers (44 to 64) are the most philanthropic generation in American history, having already given more to charity than the other four generations. The next ten years will see many Boomers re-engaging in communities they love.

Generation Xers (28 – 44), for instance, like to solve problems and are more likely to take on projects as volunteer leaders than to join boards or committee. When they give, they tend to make contributions only where they have volunteered.

Millenials (under 28) are the most diverse and global of the five generations. This generation jumped in as the first to respond to the crisis in Haiti giving more than $20 million in $10 text message gifts in the first three weeks. The youngest generation expects to find all the information they need and be able to engage online or by their cell phones.

Thank you Mark.

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