At 65, Americans are shifting their focus from accumulating to giving of time and resources. It seems like a natural progression: after living for more than six decades, there’s a greater understanding of what matters.
The generosity of the 50 million Americans over 65 may be in part because of their perspective, but it may also reflect their controlling more assets and having a higher net worth than any prior generation. The Federal Reserve says that the average net worth for Americans age 65-74 is $1,066,000. The median American net worth is $224,000.
The Denver Post reports in the article “On Philanthropy: Giving in the last third of life,” that older Americans are the most generous generational group in the country. Those born before 1964 are responsible for almost 70% of all charitable giving.
Research found that retirees who give, are more likely than their less-generous counterparts to report high levels of happiness and a sense of purpose. Many older adults volunteer their time to help other people or a specific cause.
- A greater sense of well-being (89%);
- Less stress (73%);
- Better physical health (68%);
- Better emotional health (77%);
- An enriched sense of purpose (92%); and
- More happiness (96%).
Volunteering can also delay mortality among older adults, according to a Stanford University study. You’ll live longer!
Those who are considering philanthropy should ask themselves these important questions:
- How much of my net worth is needed to adequately take care of myself and my family for the remainder of our lives?
- How much money do I want to leave for my children?
- How do I want to be remembered and what’s my legacy?
- What difference do I want to make in the community, while I still can do so?
- What are my skills that might be useful to others?
- How do I want to share and express my values with my children and their children?
- What’s my passion?
- What philanthropic efforts could help me to achieve a greater sense of significance?
Before making a commitment to a nonprofit, research the organization to find out how much of its donations are spent on administration, salaries and things other than programing. Be sure it is financially viable and responsibly stewards donated resources and funds. Then look into any volunteer opportunities, which are often in the areas of fundraising, special events and leadership, i.e., board positions.
Charitable activities can be just as rewarding when your donation is of your time and talent, as when it is a donation of money.
Reference: Denver Post (April 15, 2019) “On Philanthropy: Giving in the last third of life”