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Millennial entrepreneurs twice as generous with their money and time than Gen X, Baby Boomer entrepreneurs

Fidelity Charitable survey shows how three generations of business owners are making an impact on philanthropy

BOSTON, MA, May 28, 2019—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.

The next generation of philanthropy

Millennial entrepreneurs are the most highly engaged and committed to philanthropy compared with Boomers and Gen X. More than 80% of Millennial business owners say that giving is a very important activity in their lives versus 57% of Gen X and 48% 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% reporting that they spent time volunteering in 2017, compared to 74% 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% of Boomers.
  • Millennials are also more likely to be serial entrepreneurs, with 61% 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,” said Pamela Norley, president of Fidelity Charitable.

Entrepreneurs’ philanthropy across generational divides

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.

Graphic describing millennial entrepreneurs and how they approach philanthropy. They are hands-on and support a wide variety of causes.
  • Millennial entrepreneurs want to be involved, with 90% valuing charities that offer meaningful volunteer opportunities. More than half say that volunteering is a chance to learn new skills relevant to their profession, compared to a third of Gen X and only 20% of Boomers.
  • Younger entrepreneurs see charitable giving as a way to build their reputation, with 84% saying they value giving as an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in the community. 74% value having their contributions recognized publicly, compared to only 19% of Boomers.
Graphic describing Gen X entrepreneurs and how they approach philanthropy. They support a limited set of causes and value charities that benefit their local area.
  • Gen X entrepreneurs are focused on their local communities, with 90% valuing charities that benefit the area where they live, compared to 79% 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% preferring to be personally involved with the charities they support.
Graphic describing Baby Boomer entrepreneurs and how they approach philanthropy. They support a limited set of causes and prefer to give to traditional nonprofits.
  • 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% 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. Regardless of generation, entrepreneurs will continue to be a driving force for philanthropy in the world,” concluded Norley.

View the full data analysis

About Fidelity Charitable

Fidelity Charitable is an independent public charity that has helped donors support more than 278,000 nonprofit organizations with nearly $35 billion in grants. Established in 1991, Fidelity Charitable launched the first national donor-advised fund program. The mission of the organization is to grow the American tradition of philanthropy by providing programs that make charitable giving accessible, simple and effective. For more information about Fidelity Charitable, visit https://www.fidelitycharitable.org.

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