Millennial Entrepreneurs Rank Highest for Philanthropy

Young business owners donate more money, time than previous generations
A woman giving back

Millennials entrepreneurs aren’t in business just to make money — compared to previous generations of business owners, they’re also more focused on how they can make a difference in the world, a new survey suggests.

Polling 288 entrepreneurs from three generations whose businesses have annual revenue of $1 million or more, the charity fund Fidelity Charitable found that millennials were more likely to volunteer and give philanthropically than Gen Xers and baby boomers.

In fact, a full 81% of millennial entrepreneurs described giving as “a very important activity in their lives,” compared to 57% of Gen Xers and 48% of boomers, the survey said.

Not only are millennials more likely to give, but they’re donating more than twice as much money as their older counterparts. The average annual donation among millennial respondents was $13,654 in 2017, compared to $6,200 for Gen Xers and $6,192 for boomers.

Millennials also tend to look at giving from a long-term perspective, as nearly two-thirds of millennial business owners said they would leave money to charity when they die, compared to 46% of boomers.

But giving money isn’t the only way entrepreneurs can support the causes they believe in. Most millennial business owners — 93% — said they had volunteered some of their time in 2017, significantly higher than the 74% of boomers who had volunteered that year.

Millennial respondents averaged 9 hours of volunteering per month, above that for Gen Xer (8 hours) and boomer (6 hours) entrepreneurs.

The survey also showed a generational divide when it comes to how those business owners approach their philanthropy. While most Gen Xers (63%) and baby boomers (66%) said they preferred to focus their giving on a limited number of causes they believe in, a majority of millennials (57%) preferred supporting a broader variety of causes.

Millennials also appear to recognize that giving money and time can offer additional perks that can help them in business and in life. Among millennial respondents, 84% said they appreciate the fact that giving provides an opportunity for them to show leadership in the community. This suggests that millennials want the world to know about their contributions — in fact, 74% of millennials said they value being publicly recognized for their philanthropic activities, compared to only 19% of boomers who want the public recognition.

Likewise, the study found that millennials often seek to better themselves through volunteering. More than half of millennials said volunteering gave them the opportunity to learn new skills, while only a third of Gen Xers and 20% of boomers valued volunteering for that reason.

Entrepreneurship provides the opportunity not only to control your professional destiny, but also to let you determine which ways your business can be of service, both commercially and philanthropically. If giving back is a priority, you can do so by creating a company-wide charitable giving program, or even simply by donating points from your small business credit card.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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