Nov 22, 2023

Is Now a Good Time to Give? Today’s Young Adults Think So

As young adults continue to grow in their identity as givers, it seems many are eager to be more generous—no matter what they think about the current economy.

Recent research released in Barna’s The State of Generosity series offers insightful data around young adults’ perspectives on giving—including what paths they may take to shape these perspectives—in order to help pastors think well about the next generation and generosity in their church.

The Majority of Young Adults Believes Now Is a Good Time to Be Generous
Do young adults think now is a good time to give?

The answer is a resounding yes! Younger generations appear eager for this opportunity. They recognize that their generous reputation is only just taking shape. For instance, Boomers and Elders feel that, all things considered, they can stay consistent in their levels of charitable giving. But younger adults, especially Gen Z and Millennials, are more likely than their elders to believe the economic moment calls for them to be more generous than usual in their contributions to nonprofits.

So how do young adults learn about finances and decide where to donate their money? Let’s take a closer look at what steps they take prior to expressing generosity financially.

Investing in the Future

A Vision for Generosity Across Generations

Nearly Half of Young Adults Learn About Finances via Internet Research
When it comes to money matters, young adults appear to be doing their homework, gleaning financial information from many sources, especially those that are relational or online. When asked where they learn about finances, Gen Z (58%) and Millennials (49%) point to a network of close friends and family as the first stop. Internet research is also a common financial teacher for half of adults in younger generations (48% and 49%, respectively).

This doesn’t necessarily mean they get their financial information from social media such as Facebook and Instagram. Only about one-third in younger generations (33% Gen Z, 28% Millennials) gets financial information by signing into these platforms, so there may be myriad other online sources they consult.

At this time, Gen Z and Millennials aren’t receiving much professional financial advisement; this is a source that only Elders seem to have really tapped into. Pastors and religious leaders are also rarely noted as sources of financial education; though here too, Elders stand out as being the most likely generation to say they have learned about money by talking to clergy.

A New Era of Giving

How Millennials & Gen Z Approach Stewardship

Before Giving, Nearly Four in Five Young Adults Research an Organization First
With the desire to be more generous steering them forward, and an understanding of how to handle their finances established with the help of family, friends and the internet, how do young adults determine where to donate their money?

Barna data finds that most people do their homework before they open their wallets (or click on their mobile payment app of choice)—everyone is a “researcher” before becoming a donor, regardless of age. In fact, four in five adults among Gen Z (81%) and Elders (80%) alike report researching organizations and charities before choosing to offer financial support.

Usually, this means going straight to the source: an organization’s website. The plurality of adults of any age group (including fully half of Elders) primarily research this way. From there, there are some generational differences. Gen Z and Millennials may be more inclined to find information on charities via social media, while Boomers and Elders may be more inclined to check out an organization’s ratings.

Overall, online information and conversations with close friends and family are most influential when it comes to learning about organizations Gen Z may want to support financially.

The Trust Factor

Connecting & Communicating with Young Donors

For their own season of life, younger generations seem to be gathering information and learning about money in ways that are both intentional and natural.

Taken together, the data offers clear next steps for churches hoping to offer financial guidance to the next generation of givers. Young adults recognize there is more they can give and do, and they hope the Church can help them determine how.

Investing in the future of generosity may start with taking the next generation at their word.

About the Research

This report is based on an online quantitative survey of 2,016 U.S. adults, conducted from November 12–19, 2021. The margin of error for the sample is +/- 2 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. Researchers used an online panel for data collection and observed a quota random sampling methodology. Quotas were set to obtain a minimum readable sample by a variety of demographic factors and samples were weighted by region, ethnicity, education, age and gender to reflect their natural presence in the U.S. population (using U.S. Census Bureau data for comparison).

Photo by Igal Ness from Unsplash

© Barna Group, 2023.

About Barna

Since 1984, Barna Group has conducted more than two million interviews over the course of thousands of studies and has become a go-to source for insights about faith, culture, leadership, vocation and generations. Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization.

A person extends their hands, holding several coins

Featured Barna Collection

The State of Generosity

We’ve teamed up with Gloo and a collective of partners to study the who, what, why and how of today’s giving landscape. We’re also looking to the future of giving, both in terms of trends and the next generation.

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