Giving Trends of Younger Donors

Giving Trends of Younger Donors

Article posted in Demographics on 24 February 1999| comments
audience: National Publication | last updated: 16 September 2012


As we advance in the age of information and technology, young Americans are amassing wealth in significant amounts. In this edition of Gift Planner's Digest, Betsy Mangone and Kathryn Miree examine the phenomenon of young philanthropists and the issues that gift planners must address when advising them.

by Betsy A. Mangone & Kathryn W. Miree

Today donors are younger--their interests, needs, and expectations are reflecting the motivations and values of their generation. Every day, donor advisors and planned giving officers are discovering that the financial needs, interests, and expectations of 75-year-old donors differ considerably from the needs, interests, and expectations of the 45- or 50-year-old donors that are forming the new donor prospect pool.

From 1929 to 1997, there have been quantifiable records of private philanthropy by Americans (in current dollars).

Year Philanthropic Giving
1929 In spite of the economic climate, charitable giving totaled $1.28 billion.
1950 Americans' philanthropic generosity tripled to $4.55 billion.
1960 Gifts donated for philanthropic purposes more than doubled to $10.4 billion.
1970 At the beginning of this decade, the 1960 figure had almost doubled to $19.2 billion.
1980 Increasing dramatically from an already significant base, private giving rose to $48 billion.
1990 Charitable giving more than doubled again--to $111.9 billion.
1997 $143.05 billion was privately given for philanthropic purposes. Of these funds, $116.23 billion, or nearly 81% was given by individuals.1

Why Have Americans Been Giving?

Motive Percent
To help those that have less than they do. 60.6%
To gain a sense of personal satisfaction from giving. 47.3%
To return to society some of the benefits it gave them.2 44.1%

Goals Percent
To increase opportunities for the less fortunate. 60.9%
To enhance the moral basis of society. 53.8%
To teach people to be more self-sufficient. 56.5%
To improve the cultural life of the community. 40.6%
To help grassroots organizations.3 43.1%

A New Generation of Donors

Emerging demographic and economic circumstances are giving rise to a new generation of tax-wise, financially savvy donors whose giving practices are based on business acumen as well as philanthropic concern. Why will Americans give in the future?


  • Desire for increased participation in use of their charitable dollars.
  • Control of their financial and philanthropic assets.
  • To create and manage changes in society.
  • To create partnerships with charity.
  • To teach family members the importance of philanthropy.
  • To integrate philanthropy into their personal financial and estate planning needs.


  • Expect accountability from the charitable organization.
  • Leverage wealth to "change the world."
  • Witness a return on their gift--whether tangible or intangible.
  • Affiliate with financially and programmatically sound organizations.

Financial Interests and Expectations of the New Generation of Donors

Younger donors are falling into several broad categories. Examining the general interests and priorities of each of these categories can assist in identifying their receptivity to planned giving concepts. The traditional approach to segmenting the planned giving market has been to look at two indicators: age and wealth.

The age and wealth-based matrix has been successfully used for prospect identification, gift creation, gift administration, and gift investment. The traditional matrix looked at planned giving prospects from age 55+ and assets of about $250,000+.

Traditional Age And Wealth Matrix

  Middle Age Years
Older Years

Today's matrix may look more like this.4

New Age And Wealth Matrix

Post Retirement
$2 Million
$1--2 Million
Well Off
Under $1 Million

The above matrix lowers the age group by at least 10 years, and raises the wealth level significantly. Why? Today's donors are: younger; financially focused; control oriented; planning oriented; and full of expectations from their charity.

Age and wealth continue to be effective planning measurements for both the identification of planned giving prospects, and for designing and investing the gifts they give. However, donor advisors, planned giving professionals, and institutions need to adjust their gift design and investment plans to accommodate these important new demographics.

Segmenting The Younger Donor Market

The steady, perceptible decline in planned giving prospect/donor age means several issues for donors, donor advisors, and charities--particularly for life-income gifts.

Points To Consider--Donor:

  • Longer life, therefore, longer income stream.
  • Additional income for retirement years.
  • Need to avoid erosion to income stream due to inflation.
  • Desire to have income and assets go to children or even grandchildren.
  • Interest in making the gift a component of his/her personal estate plan.

Points To Consider--Donor Advisors and Charities:

  • Longer relationship with the donor (and the donor's family) after the gift is made.
  • Additional internal resources devoted to stewardship and accountability.
  • Additional internal/external resources devoted to investment strategies and analysis.
  • Need to generate longer life-income stream for longer terms.
  • Ability to assist donor with various planned giving tools to enhance the donor's retirement income needs, as well as other personal estate and tax planning objectives.

Interests And Priorities Of The Younger Donor

The following are examples of emerging prospect and donor interests, and motivations for charitable gifts.

Baby Boomers
  • Financial benefit for themselves and family
  • Participant in program
  • Control
  • Recognition
  • Stewardship
  • International
  • Social causes
  • Environmental
  • Education5
  • International investment
  • International solution
  • Financial benefit for themselves and family
  • Control
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Recognition
  • Accountability
  • Education/Community
  • Building programs
  • Want to give back
  • They "invest" their charitable dollars
  • Willing to be directed because they do not have time
  • They can make it happen
  • Need strong case
  • Greater control of their own resources
  • Leveraging gifts to insure their interests and values are matched with their philanthropic dollars
  • Greater accountability be established by nonprofit institutions 6
  • Change--Support change to leave behind a better world
  • Create--Enjoy starting new projects and programs
  • Connect--See partnerships where they give
  • Commit--Conscientious management, tangible results, proper recognition
  • Collaborate--Provide opportunities for socializing, learning, and direct action
  • Celebrate--Collective recognition, private appreciation--not perks
High Income/Low Asset Executives
  • No assets, only income
  • Community building
  • Building income for retirement
  • Family first
  • Income "shelf," step off when they leave
  • Do his/her part
  • Interested in doing the right thing
  • Peer-to-Peer perception
  • Pull of Board of Directors

Financial Expectations

The relative youth, financial acumen, and interests of these prospect and donor segments, pinpoints the importance to the institution, planned giving officer, and donor advisor of recognizing and meeting the younger donors' financial expectations.

Examples of financial expectations include:

Growth of income stream through current investment strategies. Donors anticipate a longer retirement period, as well as a longer life span. Additionally, they are more comfortable with risk oriented, high performance investment vehicles. Inflation as a concept is understood, and considered to be an intrinsic component of financial reality. Therefore, donors look for institutions offering charitable vehicles that provide inflation sensitive income streams such as the charitable remainder unitrust.

A charitable portfolio that performs as well as a noncharitable portfolio. It has long been an encouraged practice of planned giving officers to point out that a charitable gift that is invested to provide income to the donor, does not provide the same investment results that a noncharitable or commercial product produces. Increasingly, donors are asking why their charitable gift, invested under the investment guidelines of institutions, are not expected to perform to the same standard as a noncharitable investment.

Professional, timely, and accurate accounting practices. The days of sporadic, hastily prepared financial reports to donors are becoming rare. Donors have shown a marked preference for organizations that prepare professional, organized, and informational reports that are distributed on a regular basis.

Charitable Expectations

The younger prospect or donor may view the charity much like they view a business. They have expectations that weren't dreamed of by prior generations. The younger donor expects:

  • Professionalism--the highest in professional standards in all aspects of the gift planning, negotiation, investment, and administrative process.
  • Stewardship--a personalized approach to acknowledging the gift. A process that continues on some regular basis after the gift is completed.
  • Accountability--a regular reporting process that lets the donor know the difference his/her gift is making.
  • Giving options--a professional knowledge and institutional capability to provide an array of gift options that provide financial benefits as incentives to completing a charitable gift.
  • Investment performance--a competent and well-managed investment process.

The Role Of Life Income Gifts For Younger Donors

Planned giving officers and donor advisors must focus on the needs and interests of the younger donor to match those interests with the best form of planned gift. Then, the nonprofit must properly invest the funds to support the goals of both the donor and the institution.

The typical donor will move through a series of changes in attitudes about investments, and about the income generated from those investments. Begin by understanding and helping the younger donor think through the process described below:

Age Goals
25-40 Generate enough income to survive!
40-55 Build assets--gather and invest--long-term investment horizon.
55-65 Position for retirement--shorter-term investment horizon.
65-on Live on income--preserve principal--short-term, conservative investment horizon.

Three types of planned gifts--the escalating payment net income charitable remainder unitrust (EPNICRUT), the flexible deferred charitable gift annuity (FDCGA) and the pooled income fund (PIF)--will be analyzed to compare the impact of the investment structure on the donor's income stream and the charity's residual value.

Factor Detail  
Total Return On Equity Allocation 11.85% Average returns (income and appreciation) large and small cap stocks 1926-1997--from Ibbotson.
Yield (Income Stream) On Bond Allocation 5.88% Yield as of 5/26/98 on Merrill Lynch 1-10 Year G/C Index--bonds held to maturity.
Current Yield On S&P 500 1.42% Yield as of 5/26/98.
Allocation of Income Oriented Investment Structure 20% Equities/80% Fixed
Allocation of portfolio--rebalanced annually at the first of the year.
Allocation Of Balanced Investment Structure 50% Equities/50% Fixed (50/50) Allocation of portfolio--rebalanced annually at the first of the year.
Allocation Of Growth Oriented Investment Structure 80% Equities/20% Fixed (80/20) Allocation of portfolio--rebalanced annually at the first of the year.

Escalating Payment Net Income Charitable Remainder Unitrust (EPNICRUT)

The escalating payment net income charitable remainder unitrust (EPNICRUT) is not a new concept, but simply a way of expressing the investment approach and income result for this trust designed to meet the needs of the younger donor. This approach assumes an agressively allocated (high equity ratio) investment approach, with distributions limited to the net income generated by the trust. The result is that most growth occurs in the principal of the trust, driving the income stream higher over time. The trust maintains the high equity ratio even through the retirement years, so that the donor's payment continues to increase after retirement to address inflationary concerns.

This trust offers an excellent alternative to a net income with makeup trust (NIMCRUT) in which investments have traditionally been structured for growth in early years, but restructured as fixed income in retirement years.

For the purposes of these examples, it is assumed that the donor makes an initial contribution of $250,000 to a 5% net income charitable remainder unitrust. No additional contributions are made. A fee of .75% is deducted from income. The charts show the resulting income and residual principal value with various asset allocations.

EPNICRUT Annual Income Payments After Forty Years


Forty Year Growth Of Principal In EPNICRUT


Income Stream for growth fund exceeds stream in balanced and income funds.

Pooled Income Fund

Younger donors have been well educated on the benefits of total return in the investment market. The concept of making a gift at age 45 in which the return is restricted to actual income can be difficult. Nonprofit institutions struggling to structure pooled income funds that are attractive to donors are also challenged. Some organizations have created funds that begin as growth funds, and then change the structure to a fixed income weighting. However, the difficulties with this approach are two-fold: First, donors enter the fund at various times and ages, meaning that it is difficult to gauge the time at which the fund should change investment philosophy to generate more income; second, once the fund has changed investment style, the nonprofit must create a new pooled income fund to attract younger donors.

A more consistent approach is to create separate pooled income funds (PIF) for donors that allow choice. To illustrate this point, 40-year returns were calculated for three asset allocations: income, balanced, and growth. For the purposes of these calculations it is assumed that a 45-year-old donor made a $25,000 gift to a pooled income fund. The first graph illustrates the growth of the income from each PIF during the 40-year term.

Forty Year Growth Of Income On $25,000 Contribution To Pooled Income Fund


The income in the growth-oriented fund remains low through the high-income years, and becomes significant as the donor moves through the retirement years. Note that at age 65, the income from the growth-oriented fund exceeds the income stream from both the balanced and fixed investment models. And more importantly, income continues to grow to address issues of longer lives, inflation, and the resulting rising expenses.

The 80/20 agressively invested fund begins with modest income of $578, or 1.66% during that period in the donor's life in which he or she is reaching maximum income generating potential. As the donor approaches retirement at age 65, the income from the aggressively invested pooled income fund has now increased to $2,650 annually, an equivalent of a 10.6% yield on the initial contribution. The increase in this income stream has far outstripped the return on a 100% fixed fund that would have remained constant at approximately $1,470.


Finally, at age 85, the pooled income fund stream has continued to grow to an annual stream of $13,162 or 52.6% of the initial contribution. This additional income can address any inflationary/care concerns of the elderly donor.

Charity benefits as well from an aggresively invested pooled income fund. Ending residual values for the income oriented, balanced, and growth oriented funds are shown on the chart below.

Forty Year Growth of $25,000 in Pooled Income Fund


The principal reverting to the nonprofit institution with the income oriented fund is 246.71% greater than the principal reverting to the institution for a 100% fixed fund.

CAVEAT: For the purposes of these examples, a steady investment return based on conservative figures is assumed. The equity returns, which drive this growth, are based on 70-year averages. Also note that these figures do not reflect any administrative charges. Charges for administration vary widely. Assuming that adminsitrative charges are deducted against income, these charges will not affect underlying asset growth, although it will impact the distribution to the donor.

Flexible Deferred Gift Annuity

Gift annuities are popular because of their simplicity and their payment certainty. The new flexible deferred gift annuity option7 offers the younger donor another choice. The flexible deferred gift annuity provides the donor a fixed payment at some point in the future, and the flexibility to control the date those payments will begin. The longer the payment date is deferred, the greater the size of the annuity amount. The payment schedule/options are established at the date the annuity is created, and do not depend on the success of the financial markets.

The chart below shows the payment options available to the donor who establishes a flexible deferred charitable gift annuity at age 45, with the deduction based on a start date of 65.8 The far right column reflects the residual value for the charity at 40 years based upon an asset allocation of 50/50 during the annuity term.

Elective Start Date Age at Start Date Annuity Amount Residual Value at 40 Years with 50/50 Asset Allocation
6/30/2013 60 $3,012.72 $471,947
6/30/2014 61 $3,330.04 $470,788
6/30/2015 62 $3,688.00 $470,897
6/30/2016 63 $4,092.92 $467,753
6/30/2017 64 $4,552.28 $465,880
6/30/2018 65 $5,075.00 $463,776
6/30/2019 66 $5,425.00 $473,885
6/30/2020 67 $5,825.00 $482,982
6/30/2021 68 $6,250.00 $492,531
6/30/2022 69 $6,700.00 $502,581
6/30/2023 70 $7,175.00 $513,162
6/30/2024 71 $7,675.00 $524,290
6/30/2025 72 $8,225.00 $535,325
6/30/2026 73 $8,825.00 $546,488
6/30/2027 74 $9,575.00 $555,959
6/30/2028 75 $10,375.00 $566,385

Comparing The Alternatives

In summary, look first at the way in which these gift alternatives vary in the way that they serve the donor and the institution:

Type of Gift



Escalating Payment Net Income Charitable Remainder Unitrust High income younger donor focused on building income for retirement years--wealthy/large gift; wants all income.
  • Allows use of more aggressive underlying investment approach.
  • Mirrors investment attitude of younger donors focused on total return.
  • Long-term investment horizon provides some certainty of continuing growth of income stream through retirement years.
  • Trust allows continuing contributions.
  • Charity benefits from strong residual value at end of term.
  • Income stream in aggressive allocation never reaches 5% payout amount.
  • Future income stream can only be modeled--no guarantees.
Pooled Income Fund Moderate income younger donor--smaller annual contributions; wants all income from gift.
  • Allows use of more aggressive underlying investment approach.
  • Mirrors investment attitude of younger donors focused on total return.
  • Long-term investment horizon provides some certainty of continuing growth of income stream through retirement years.
  • PIF allows continuing contributions.
  • Charity benefits from strong residual value at end of term.
  • Income stream remains low as percentage of market value throughout the trust.
  • Income stream can not be established at outset and depends upon success of underlying investments.
Flexible Deferred Charitable Gift Annuity Donor making small, medium, or large contribution who wants a known income stream and some flexibility as to when payments begin.
  • Allows donor flexibility in selecting time and size of payments.
  • Simple to understand and execute.
  • Charity benefits from strong residual value at end of term.
  • Donor does not share in underlying growth of funds, if it occurs.

Next, look at the way in which the deductions, income streams, and residual values compare.

Type of Gift Charitable Deduction Income Stream Year 20 Income Stream
Year 40
Residual Value Year 40
$25,000 Escalating Payment Net Income Charitable Remainder Unitrust9 (80/20 asset allocation) $6,235 $1,790 $8,892 $616,786
$25,000 STANCRUT (80/20 asset allocation) $6,235 $3,105 $8,093 $169,806
$25,000 Pooled Income Fund Contribution10 (80/20 asset allocation) $14,086.25 $2,650 $13,162 $616,786
$25,000 Flexible Deferred Charitable Gift Annuity11 $12,849.50 $5,075 $5,075 $566,385

Investment managers should produce projections that provide a context for decision making for the donor. These projections should use conservative factors, as in these examples, and should clearly be marked as projections. You will find that this information will enhance the decision making process, will give the donor a way to visualize the income growth, and will give the donor a way to quantify the future value of the gift.

The Investment Management Process

The investment of split interest gifts for younger donors must be handled in a separate process from the investment of the general endowed assets of the nonprofit. The separation of process sometimes results from a legal or regulatory requirement to hold the assets in a separate account,12 but generally is driven by the divergent investment objectives of the gift.

The key to success in managing the investment of long-term split interest gifts is to identify the factors involved in making investment decisions, and then to develop a process that allows management of those factors. The nonprofit should begin by understanding the movement of the investment markets, and by learning how to identify risks in those markets.

Understanding The History Of The Investment Market

Nonprofits historically have been careful stewards of funds. During periods of high interest and regular bear markets, this duty of care translated into the investment of the majority of an institution's assets in high yielding, high quality bonds. Spending was limited to actual income generated, net of fees, and the principal was preserved.

While fixed income preserved the value of the original principal, it created two losses. First, inflation eroded the value of the principal so that growth after inflation was negative. Second, the funds lost through opportunity cost.

The bull market of the 90s, and the adoption by most nonprofits of modern investment theory, have changed the rules. On October 11, 1990, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 2,465. As of June 9, 1998, that average was 9,049. But this high level creates many uncertainties about the risk of entering the equity markets. For example, on October 27, 1997, the market fell 554.26 points--a 7.2% drop in one day. What should be done to avoid losses?

The long-term performance history of the securities markets provides some help. The chart below reflects the asset class performance in the U.S. Capital markets for various asset classes from 1925 through 1997. The percentages on the left-hand side of the chart represent the average annual total return (combined income and principal growth) over the period. The boxes at the top of each column represent the year end value of a $1 investment made at the end of 1925.13


Timing The Market

Most investors worry when the market reaches record levels and are tempted to become market timers. Market timing is uncontrollable and unpredictable. The study below reflects the danger in timing.

Market Period S&P Annualized Returns
1980--1989 17.5%
Remove 10 Best Trading Days in Period 12.6%
Remove 20 Best Trading Days in Period 9.3%
Remove 30 Best Trading Days in Period 6.5%
Remove 40 Best Trading Days in Period 3.9%
Source: Datastream, Ibbotson Associates and Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

An investor that bought the S&P basket of stocks on January 1, 1980, and held them until December 31, 1989, had a total annual return of 17.5%. However, for the investor who was out of the market on the 10 best days during that period, the average annual return is reduced to 12.6%. If the investor was out of the market for the 40 best of the 2,528 days during the period, the average annual return was reduced to 3.9%. There is no predictor for the "best" days.

The Role Of Asset Allocation

There has been great debate on what constitutes the best method of producing growth in an investment portfolio: market timing, security selection, or asset allocation. In 1986, Gary Brinson and Randolph Hood, First Chicago Investment Advisors, and Gilbert Beebower of SEI Corporation undertook a study to make that determination. The results of the study led them to conclude that investment policy--allocating assets to asset classes--was the clear, critical determinant of portfolio performance. Investment strategy--timing the market and selecting the securities--had a much less significant role.14

The Brinson/Hood/Beebower study looked at the performance data from 91 large pension plans over a 10-year period (1974-1983). Their goal in the study was, "to rank in order of importance the decisions made by investment clients and managers, and then to measure the overall importance of these decisions to actual plan performance."15

Factors affecting performance that were examined included investment policy, the combination of policy and timing, the combination of policy and security selection, and the actual return.

The results were compelling:

  • 100.0% of the return was attributable to all factors;
  • 97.8% of the return was the result of policy and selection;
  • 95.0% of the return was the result of policy and timing; and
  • 93.6% of the return was the result of policy.

A follow up study was reported in 1991, in the Financial Analysts Journal.16 In this study, the participants looked at 82 large pension plans over an 11-year period (1977-1987), and fine tuned the earlier formulas used to attribute results. While the total return results for this period were significantly higher than in the previously studied period, the results of the study were equally as compelling:

  • 100.0% of the return was attributed to all factors;
  • 96.1% of the return was the result of policy and selection;
  • 96.1% of the return was the result of policy and allocation; and
  • 91.5% of the return was the result of policy.

These studies have become widely accepted and provide great guidance to the nonprofit. Specifically, the nonprofit should focus on the asset allocation decisions made for a trust account, and should not rely solely on investment strategy to achieve returns.

Diversification Of Risk Through Time

Passage of time is another way to manage, or diversify risk. Holding an asset through a longer period of time always reduces the volatility of return. The riskiest activity that an investor can undertake is to move in and out of asset classes over the short-term.

The Importance Of Consistency

A manager who consistently performs in the upper quartile of similar managers will produce better long-term results than the mega-star that wildly exceeds expectations in some years, while under-performing in others. The chart below reflects the growth of $1,000,000 over five years in two portfolios. Both of these portfolios had an average of a 10% numerical return over the five-year period (measured by taking annual returns, adding them, and dividing that figure by five). The value of Portfolio I, which achieved a steady 10% return year after year, was $1,610,510 at the end of the term. The value of Portfolio II, which varied widely from year to year, had a value of $1,134,000 at the end of the term. The chart emphasizes the value of consistency of performance, and sends a cautionary message to those who are tempted to chase the previous year's high flyer.

Growth Of $1,000,000 Over Five Years




The establishment of creative giving programs, tailored to meet the younger donor's needs, will be imperative for an institution or donor advisor who wants to attract this emerging group. Why? Because institutions and advisors are already positioning to attract the telecommunications and software giants (and not so giants) who are young, and already in possession of stock options, warrants, and other assets that they are interested in donating?to a charity that has the institutional tools for younger donors.


The authors welcome your feedback. Please direct your comments to Betsy Mangone via A Strategic Alliance of Planned Giving Consultants.

  1. American Association of Fund Raising Counsel, Giving USA.back

  2. National Commission on Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, September 1996.back

  3. Ibid.back

  4. Mangone & Co., April 1998.back

  5. Mangone & Co., January 1998.back

  6. Reinventing Fundraising: Realizing the Potential of Women's Philanthropy, Shaw, Sondra C. and Taylor, Martha A., 1995.back

  7. Letter Ruling 9743054.back

  8. Calculations provided by PGCalc and are based on the gift annuity rates effective August 1998, and an IRS Discount Rate of 7%.back

  9. 45-year-old donor, 5% NICRUT, deduction calculated in June 1998.back

  10. 45-year-old donor, deduction based on 1.88% return history.back

  11. 45-year-old donor, deduction based on 65-year-old start date, 7% AFR, and new gift annuity rates.back

  12. For example, charitable remainder trusts where the document will not allow pooling, or gift annuities where state regulation requires segregation or set aside.back

  13. Calculations based on data provided by Ibbotson's and prepared by The Trust Company of Sterne, Agee & Leach, Inc., Birmingham, Alabama.back

  14. "Determinants of Portfolio Performance," Brinson, Gary P., Hood, L. Randolph, and Beebower, Gilbert L., Financial Analysts Journal, July-August, 1986, pp. 39-43.back

  15. Supra at p. 40.back

  16. "Determinants of Portfolio Performance II: An Update," Brinson, Gary P., Singer, Brian D. and Beebower, Gilbert L., Financial Analysts Journal, May-June, 1991, pp. 40-48.back

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