BOSTON—Millennial entrepreneurs show higher levels of charitable giving and volunteerism than entrepreneurs of earlier generations, one of many differences uncovered in a new Fidelity Charitable survey focusing on three generations of business owners. The data shows that younger entrepreneurs have different approaches to business—and to philanthropy—than those who came before.
Millennial entrepreneurs are the most highly engaged and committed to philanthropy compared with Boomers and Gen X. More than 80 percent of Millennial business owners say that giving is a very important activity in their lives versus 57 percent of Gen X and 48 percent of Boomers. Nearly half say charitable giving is a critical piece of who they are.
The median annual donation of Millennial business owners was $13,654 in 2017, more than twice the median donation of Gen X and Baby Boomer entrepreneurs—$6,200 and $6,192, respectively. Millennial entrepreneurs are generous with both their money and time, with 93 percent reporting that they spent time volunteering in 2017, compared to 74 percent of Boomers.
Millennial business owners are already planning their charitable legacies. Nearly two thirds plan to leave money to charity after they’re gone, versus 46 percent of Boomers. Millennials are also more likely to be serial entrepreneurs, with 61 percent having founded more than one business; almost two-thirds of Baby Boomer entrepreneurs have founded only one business.
“The philanthropic landscape is changing, and our research shows that Millennial entrepreneurs are shaping a new way for charitable giving. Millennials want to feel a connection to causes they care about. While these characteristics are not limited just to the entrepreneurs of the Millennial generation, their practical impacts on philanthropy become more pronounced through the lens of entrepreneurship,” Pamela Norley, president of Fidelity Charitable, said.
A closer look at the generations shows a clear divide—traditional and intentional Boomers, optimistic and active Millennials and Gen Xers who bridge the gap, sharing qualities with the generations on either side.
Gen X entrepreneurs are focused on their local communities, with 90 percent valuing charities that benefit the area where they live, compared to 79 percent of Boomers. Similar to Boomers, Gen X entrepreneurs tend to focus their giving on a narrow set of causes and prefer to support traditional, well-established nonprofits. However, more closely aligned with Millennials, Gen X likes to be hands-on, with 61 percent preferring to be personally involved with the charities they support.
Millennial entrepreneurs want to be involved, with 90 percent valuing charities that offer meaningful volunteer opportunities. More than half say that volunteering is a chance to learn new skills, compared to a third of Gen X and only 20 percent of Boomers.
Younger entrepreneurs see charitable giving as a way to build their reputation, with 84 percent saying they value giving as an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in the community. 74 percent value having their contributions recognized publicly, compared to only 19 percent of Boomers.
Two-thirds of Baby Boomer entrepreneurs give to a limited number of specific causes, displaying a more focused approach to their philanthropic efforts compared to the 57 percent of Millennials who support a wide variety of causes.
“We know that entrepreneurs are committed and effective philanthropists. While different generations may approach philanthropy with varying attitudes, behaviors and values, the unique giving behaviors of entrepreneurs will continue to make an outsized impact on the causes they support,” Norley said. “Regardless of generation, entrepreneurs will continue to be a driving force for philanthropy in the world.” AP