Millennial Women Beg to Differ: Generational Differences in Women’s Giving

These are the top three issues for Millennial giving. What if one of the top three was gender equality? What kind of a difference would that make?

Fidelity Charitable has come out with a new report on trends in women’s giving, and it is definitely food for thought for anyone in the women’s philanthropy field.

The report delves into generational differences in giving between Millennial women and Boomer women.

Before talking about the report’s findings, I want to draw attention to the methodology, so we know specifically who we are talking about when we talk about Millennials and Baby Boomers. The report used survey data from Millennials, which they defined as women age 17 to 37, and Baby Boomers, which they defined as women age 51 to 71. So women in the 37 to 51 range (like me!) are not being talked about in the report.

One thing these two populations have in common is not prioritizing gender equality as an issue area for their giving. “Hunger and Access to Nutritious Food” is the number #1 giving issue for both Millennial and Baby Boomer women. Giving Issues #2 and 3 are mainly focused on health care for both generations of women, with Millennials putting environmental concerns in the #3 spot. That makes a lot of sense, given that younger people have had more experiences of the negative environmental effects of global warming, and the science about the problem has become clearer in recent decades.

One finding that struck me as most significant was about the meaning of philanthropy for Millennials, and how they weave it into every aspect of their life, including their love lives. As the report puts it, “Both generations discuss donations with their partner, but 46 percent of Millennials view giving as a way to deepen their relationships, compared with just 16 percent of Boomer women.”

Millennial women expect their partners to go deep with them into strategy around their giving.  And perhaps even more significant: Millennials are willing to voice their differences of opinion about giving with their partner and face conflict about it. According to the report, 37% of Millennials women have disagreed with their partner/spouse, compared to only 26% of Baby Boomer women.

This may sound like a small finding, but it has huge implications. Theoretically, if you can tolerate conflict about something (like the partners/spouses of millennial women givers must do, according to this data) you are one step closer to real change. This means younger women may have an important new channel for impacting the world, by having more say over philanthropic giving.

Now if only Millennial and Baby Boomer women (and Generation X women in between) would consider the value of supporting philanthropy for gender equality, we might be able to effect some significant social change.

Read the full report here.

Kiersten Marek

Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work in Cranston, Rhode Island, and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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