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Boomers or millennials? See which is the most charitable generation

Published: Monday, Jan. 28 2013 9:58 a.m. MST

New research shows that while baby boomers contribute the largest amount of money to charities, it is mature americans, those born before 1945 that are the most likely to actually give money for philanthropic causes.

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New research shows that the baby boomer generation gives more money to charity than any other generation, about $47 billion a year. But that number doesn't mean much, according to Robert F. Sharpe Jr., a consultant to non-profits. “Of course the baby boomers are going to give more money than any other generation,” he said in an interview with the New York Times. "The real question is whether they are giving more per person."

The evidence suggests they are not. The award for the most generous generation goes to the "mature" generation, those born before 1945. The population of mature Americans is estimated to be 39 million. Seventy nine percent of those make charitable contributions. Their average yearly contribution is $1,066.

By contrast there are 78 million baby boomers, but only 67 percent of them make charitable contributions. Their average yearly donation is about $900.

There are 113 million people in Generation X and Y, Americans between the ages of 18 and 45. Only about 57 percent of these make charitable contributions. Their average yearly donations range according to age. For those in generation Y, 18-29, the average yearly contribution is about $300 a year. For Generation X, 30-45, donations are about $800 a year.

There are several factors that explain these trends, Sharpe told the New York Times. "Boomers tend to have started their careers — and their families — later than those before them, which may push back the time when they hit their peak earnings and the time when they get their homes to themselves again. Beyond that, more divorces and second families put a strain on their finances. And in recent years, of course, the recession and declining home values have made things even tighter."

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