National Edge Survey
Generation X population: 62 million
• How many give: 58 percent
• Average amount given annually: $796
• Average number of charities given to: 4.2
• Estimated annual contributions: $28.6 billion
*TCB Readers in this Generation:
• Help support three (23 percent) or four (27 percent) charities annually
• Prefer to be contacted by charities through e-mail (33 percent) or mail (26 percent)
• First heard about their top charity through word of mouth (36 percent) or at work (19 percent)
• Have made charitable contributions in last two years at a fundraising event (83 percent), via a Web site (67 percent), and by sending a check by mail (61 percent)
John Larsen, 41, has a satisfying personal and professional life as a residential designer and co-owner of his own firm, but he also harbors a desire to make his community a better place. Since college, he has made it a point to do just that.
He helped start Project 515, which advocates for equal rights for same-sex couples and their families. He also helps run his family’s foundation and recently sat on the Minnesota Council on Foundations board. He and his partner, Mike Stewart, belong to the One Percent Club and exceed its giving guidelines. At Design45, LLC, in Minneapolis, Larsen and his business partner, Ted Barnhill, donate at least 25 percent of the firm’s gross income annually.
“In order to feel satisfied in my life, I need to feel like an active contributor to the community,” Larsen says. When it comes to deciding where to direct personal donations outside of Larsen’s family’s foundation, Larsen and Stewart often make smaller gifts to organizations that pique their interest. If they learn more about how the nonprofits use the money and start volunteering there, their donations may grow in significance. “It’s trusted that way,” says Larsen, reflecting the beliefs of many Gen Xers.
For example, a small donation to Plymouth-based Help Every Addict Receive Treatment (HEART) led to much larger donations and prompted Larsen to run its annual golf fundraiser after he saw firsthand the huge impact that the organization had on a close friend.
Larsen prefers to focus his time on two to three causes and try to make a big impact with them. He doesn’t pay much attention to direct mail, instead learning about charities through friends or his community. “What I ultimately want to do is contribute in a way that I can see and feel a change,” he says.
*Statistics about giving habits among TCB readers came from a survey that 1,189 people completed online in December and January.