Generational Giving Insights To Future-Proof Charitable Fundraising

By Wen-Chih O’Connell, Guest Author


Have you been wondering what charitable giving in the post-pandemic era will look like? The Canadian charitable sector observed a significant shift to digital giving and fundraising accelerated by the global pandemic. As we enter a new normal, insights into current donor preferences can provide clues to what giving might look like for Canadian charities and non-profits into the future. 

New donor research shows us that the future of giving will be increasingly online across all generations of Canadians.

PayPal Giving Fund Canada commissioned a study in late 2021 to explore donor behaviour and preferences, surveying a nationally representative sample of 1,500 adult Canadians who donated in the past year. The data collected was analyzed across generation groups: Gen Z (18-24 years), Millennials (25-40 years), Gen X (41-56 years), Baby Boomers (57-75 years) and the Silver Generation (76 years+). 

The shift to online giving is not reversing – 69% of respondents indicated plans to donate online in the next year, including a third of respondents who donated offline-only during the pandemic. 

The data revealed key differences between younger and older generations when it comes to their giving behaviours and motivators. Charities can use findings from this report to inform their fundraising strategies to better attract donors from particular generational groups.


Attracting Gen Z & Millennials

  • Younger generations (40 years and younger) will drive the future of charitable fundraising. Significantly more Gen Z and Millennial donors plan to increase their giving in the coming year, compared to older generations. 

  • While all generations are increasingly donating online, Millennials are the key generation to target when it comes to online giving. Over 75% of Millennials surveyed donated online in the past year, higher than all other generations. 

  • Younger donors tend to give to causes they feel are important in the moment. 59% of Gen Z donors and 52% of Millennial donors pay more attention to causes they learn about on social media

  • Younger generations use a range of methods when making online donations – not just on a charity’s website, but also on social media, at check-out when shopping, via crowdfunding, and while live streaming.  


Retaining An Older Loyal Donor Base

  • The future of giving is online, including for those who did not grow up with high exposure to technology. 64% of older Canadian donors surveyed, including 55% of the Silver Generation (76 years+), reported being likely to donate online in the next year. 

  • Older donors (41 years+) are loyal to the causes they support and are motivated by knowing their giving is helping others. 79% of Baby Boomers and 87% of the Silver Generation surveyed say they will continue to donate to the same types of causes. 

  • Donors of all ages use online sources to research charities to support, so understanding the factors that are most important to each generation when giving online will help to convert digital research into digital donations. Older generations placed more emphasis on security of their financial information and receiving a tax receipt, while younger generations focused more on their trust in the payment platform and the impact of their donations. 


This generational giving data can help charities adjust their communications to help encourage a loyal older donor base feel more comfortable with giving online, and offers insights for charities looking to engage with young generations with greater success. Please check out the Future of Giving report to learn more. 



Wen-Chih O’Connell is the Executive Director and President of PayPal Giving Fund Canada, a Canadian registered charity that aims to harness the power of technology to make giving a part of everyday life. PayPal Giving Fund makes it easy for donors to support the charities they care about through social media platforms, websites and mobile apps they use almost every day. They partner with tech companies such as PayPal, Facebook, GoFundMe and others to enable charitable giving online – all without charging individual donors or charities for their services. 

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