Why do seniors give to charity?

For many people in the United States and Canada, winter is prime charitable giving time. With a wide range of different religious and cultural holidays in November and December, charity is in the air. And while the ranges of charitable giving ranges wildly, based on such demographics as income, sex, and location, one demographic consistently donates more money – and time – to charitable causes: older people.

Charity boxAccording to a study by Blackbaud, people aged 49 and older donated 69 per cent of all charitable dollars in the United States. However, that age bracket only represents 20 per cent of the overall American population. So Baby Boomers and their peers are giving about 3.5 times their proportion. And while Baby Boomers and seniors are generous with their money, they have found new ways to donate to their favorite charities: the internet.

“It is exciting to see how giving is trending with the Baby Boomers playing an ever important and impactful role in philanthropy. It is also encouraging to see all sectors using technology to give,” Lisa Dietlin, a Chicago, Illinois-based philanthropic consultant, said. “Technology will accelerate giving by providing easy opportunities in which to donate.”

Catherine Chapman, a philanthropy consultant based in Louisville, Kentucky, told RetirementHomes.com that one major factor which has dictated older people’s charitable giving is their financial situation; namely, their lower expenses. Other reasons include their desires to establish a lasting legacy in their later years, as well as their higher level of overall trust for charitable organizations, whereas younger cohorts tend to be more skeptical of the efficacy of charities to accomplish their stated goals.

The rates of charitable giving, even among seniors, have fallen in recent years as a result of the unstable economic landscape in Canada and the United States. A recent article in the Globe & Mail newspaper showed that in Canada, charitable giving fell from 10 billion Canadian dollars five years ago to only 8 billion today.