'Tis the Season For Giving: Where Young Affluents Choose to Donate

#GivingTuesday launched last week, good timing for this time of year, when amidst all the commercialism, many of us start to think about giving back. 

Salvation Army Santas ring bells, volunteer opportunities abound at food banks and soup kitchens, and nonprofits of every type are making a push to end the year on target. We’re at holiday giving crunch time now. It’s hard to know where to give, and affluent consumers are predicted to give big this year.

According to a study earlier this year by BMO Private Bank, virtually all high net worth individuals (94%) plan to make donations this year. Nearly half are planning on giving more than they gave last year. The top categories remain religious institutions, health programs and disease research, local community programs, children’s charities, the arts, and education programs and animal welfare.



The charity space is very specialized. Within each of the aforementioned categories, there are numerous different organizations. The choice to support the American Cancer Society as opposed to Lighthouse International will depend upon one’s personal experience with cancer or vision impairment. And as more special interest charities enter the market, competition for dollars will get even fiercer.

A look at young affluents and their giving habits provides some insight into cause marketing — and marketing to affluents in general. Young affluents are digital natives. They grew up with Toms and Warby Parker, Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They are used to a level of transparency and authenticity in what they buy and how they give, and, according to, are more focused on producing measurable impact with their giving. No Sally Struthers influencing this group – they speak with their peers, research online, and give with both their money and their time. They are also more diverse in their giving habits, more likely to give to a number of different organizations.

It’s too soon yet to know exactly where the money is going to go this year – or who the big givers are going to be – but there are a couple of organizations I’d like to turn your attention to, not as an endorsement, but because they are delivering on transparency and measurability in a very “now” fashion, which may be particularly appealing to young affluents.

Watsi – Watsi is a global crowdfunding platform for healthcare. The site is very clear, attractive and engaging. The homepage clearly states that 100% of donations fund patient care – they put that promise front and center. Rather than getting a photo of the child you are helping after your pledge, you have the opportunity to read about all of the patients, their health issues, their family, and the cost of their treatment right on the site. You can see the total cost of each treatment, as well as how much is left and how many people have donated. You also can access the stories of all of the patients that have received full funding, taking advantage of the storytelling that so naturally lends itself to a project like this. At the time of writing there are 10 patients waiting for funding, including a 20-year-old expectant mother from Kenya who needs funds for access to maternal care and a safe delivery, and a 1-year-old boy who needs surgery for an open bladder. 

The SmartWoman Project – Giving with your mobile phone is not limited to texting a donation. The SmartWoman Project empowers women around the world by giving them access to information. Download an app, pay $5 a month, and you get access to content that should be of interest. The monthly fee provides a woman in the developing world with access to content for one year. After that, you maintain your engagement with women from around the world through a marketplace. You can make donations, buy products made by women, even get involved more deeply with relevant causes. A strong feeder strategy.

SoKind Registry – Gift registries take on a new meaning when you can register for a donation to a charity of your choice. The Center for a New American Dream built the SoKind gift registry as an alternative choice for people who want to live well with less. Whether you are getting married, having a baby, or just planning a holiday party for your family, you can register for money to be donated to your favorite charity or hours volunteered to an organization of your choice. There are other options too, of course. While this site is not targeted to affluents or marketed as a charity, their approach is one to watch as it appeals to younger consumers and implies a level of social engagement that others could learn from.

Would love to hear about any other breakthrough sites and organizations that may be appealing to young affluents, or those of us with a little to give and want to see it go a long way.

1 comment about "'Tis the Season For Giving: Where Young Affluents Choose to Donate".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Paul Friedman from Chicago Public Media, December 11, 2013 at 10:10 a.m.

    Thanks for the article. I think that supporting a not-for-profit source for news and information is an important and directly relevant way to help out the community at large. Public radio is mission driven and provides in-depth analysis of local, national and international stories that commercial media is either unable or unwilling to offer. A well funded local public radio station keeps the issues and challenges of other NFP's in clear focus throughout the year.

Next story loading loading..