Giving in young adulthood: Gender differences and changing patterns across the generations
Women's Philanthropy Institute, Lily Family School of Philanthropy

Women Give 2016 investigates whether generational shifts in charitable giving intersect with women’s changing decision-making roles within families. Earlier this year, the U.S. Census Bureau released new estimates indicating that the Millennial generation (born 1981 and after) has surpassed the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) as the country’s largest generation. The interaction of multiple generations in the workplace and in families has attracted attention for several years, yet little empirical research has addressed whether different generations approach charitable giving differently. At the same time, women’s participation in the labor force has risen, leading to women’s increased influence in financial decision making individually and within the family.

A better understanding of donors and donor behavior may well unlock more resources to help solve pressing problems across society. Women Give 2016 finds that men’s and women’s donor behavior has changed over the past four decades, and that women now have greater influence over charitable decision making.


  • The estimate of giving by GenX/Millennial single women today is comparable to the giving of preBoomer single women from four decades ago. The estimate of giving by GenX/Millennial single men and married couples today is lower than the giving of their pre-Boomer counterparts four decades ago.
  • Among GenX/Millennial married couples who give large amounts, women have more influence on decisions about giving than their pre-Boomer counterparts did four decades ago.
  • For GenX/Millennial married couples whose giving decisions were influenced by women, the estimate of the amount of giving is higher than that of their pre-Boomer counterparts. For GenX/Millennial married couples whose giving decisions are made by men only, the estimate of giving is lower than that of their pre-Boomer counterparts. 

To read the full study, click on the PDF below or visit the Women's Philanthropy Institute website.