Millennials Not as Selfish as Perceived

April 13, 2017

ECFA Research Finds Young Generation to Be Inquisitive, Generous

Research just released by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) examines the giving patterns of the largest generation—millennials. The Generosity Project uncovered a pattern of optimism among young donors who cite feeling hopeful and satisfied after giving, and report being highly engaged and invested with the ministries and organizations they support financially.

"Understanding the next generation is crucial for nonprofit organizations, and ECFA is pleased to offer insight into this important segment of givers," said Dan Busby, ECFA President and CEO. "Millennials see the world in a whole new way, and gaining access to this lens is the only way organizations will stay relevant. Donors under the age of 35 are passionate about life and connected deeply to causes they care about—an encouraging sign for nonprofit organizations endeavoring to do good work in the world today."

Millennials have long been reported as the most conscious generation to date, with a track record of championing health, social, economic and environmental causes, as well as supporting businesses and organizations committed to making a positive difference in the world.

The report is based on an online survey conducted for ECFA by Campbell Rinker and A Work in Progress. It reflects data gathered from 16,800 donors to 17 non-church Christian ministries. Of these respondents, 22 percent were millennials; donors born before 1982 comprised the remaining 78 percent of participants. With a ±0.8 percent margin of error at the 99 percent confidence level, the study provides strong evidence that this generation's passionate engagement also influences their giving patterns.

Other significant findings include:

  • Millennials are optimistic about their giving. Millennials are significantly more likely to experience a range of positive emotions after giving when compared with older generations— hopeful (69 vs. 60 percent), invested (53 vs. 46 percent), satisfied (48 vs. 42 percent), generous (45 vs. 25 percent) and confident (25 vs. 20 percent).
  • Millennials are self-motivated. Fifty-two percent of millennials reported giving because of who they are, a percentage significantly higher than for previous generations. In contrast, only 21 percent reported giving because of the ministry asking them.
  • Millennials are inquisitive. Ninety percent of all donors surveyed reported researching an organization on its website before giving. Millennials are not only more likely to do this than their forebearers, but they are also significantly more likely to conduct additional research by asking other people for information about an organization (87 percent) or by checking a third-party website (73 percent) before deciding to give.
  • Millennial donors put a premium on honesty. While ninety-nine percent of donors report "honesty in business practices" is a "somewhat" or "very" important quality in a ministry, millennial donors ranked highest (56 percent) by reporting this is the most important quality a ministry can have.
  • Financial accountability significantly impacts the giving decision. Ninety-four percent of all donors surveyed consider financial accountability a positive influence on their decision to keep supporting a ministry, and 92 percent agree it is extremely important for ministries to uphold specific standards of financial integrity.


Click here to download The Generosity Project Survey Executive Summary.

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