The Generation that Keeps on Giving

Millionaires in Generation X seem more philanthropic than their parents.

Generation X millionaires give nearly twice as much on average to charitable causes than older generations, according to Northern Trust’s Wealth in America survey of high-net-worth individuals and families.

Gen X millionaire households (ages 28 to 42) gave nearly $20,000 in 2006, compared with Baby Boomers (ages 43 to 61) and Silent Generation millionaires (ages 62 to 77), who gave roughly $10,000, according to a release from Northern Trust. Gen X households are also more generous in their intended charitable bequests, planning to give 22% of their estate to charity, compared with 16% for Boomers and 14% for Silent Generation millionaires.

If you make it easy to give, they will give. Nothern Trust suggested that the advance of technology could have something to do with the generosity of Gen X. “The abundance of information about nonprofit organizations that can be found on the Internet and the ease of contributing to a charitable cause, or even starting your own global giving initiative online, is a huge convenience for younger generations, who are generally more comfortable with online giving vehicles,’ said Marguerite Griffin, senior vice president and national director of Philanthropic Services for Northern Trust.

The study showed that more than half (53%) of millionaires would rather give during their lifetime versus bequest in their will, according to Northern Trust. Millionaires still plan to leave a sizeable portion of their estate to charity (about 16% on average across the board). Gen X millionaires were more motivated to accomplish family-related goals than older generations. For example, 15% of Gen X millionaires stated that creating a lasting legacy for themselves or their family was their main goal (compared with 4% of older millionaires), and 12% stated that honoring a loved one was their primary goal (compared with 5% of older millionaires).

“Increasingly, millionaires want to ensure their children understand the responsibility that comes with wealth,” said Griffin. “Along with planning for their children’s financial future, young millionaires want to instill strong values, and get them involved in giving early on, so that it becomes an important part of their lives.”

A total of 1,014 online questionnaires were completed among households with self-stated $1 million or more in investable assets in the fourth quarter of 2007.