Millennials are more charitable than any other generation
Yes, that’s right, millennials are the most generous generation – there are stats to prove it.
Millennials are often given a bad rap for being lazy, job-hopping, entitled, and selfish, whether it’s in the workplace or in general day-to-day life. But it turns out, this couldn’t be further from the truth. First off, let’s clarify the age of Millenials – because we aren’t Gameboy-wielding snowflake teens. Defined as being born between 1981 and 1996, its oldest members are actually turning 40 this year.
According to Psychology Today, millennials don’t stigmatise mental health and are more aware of it, yet are less resilient. Between 2005 and 2015, there was an increase in depression diagnoses from nine to 15% in British millennials.
With the younger generations being more aware of mental health, it isn’t surprising that millennials make up the largest proportion of weekly charity givers, closely followed by Gen Z – who both come ahead of the older generations with more financial security. And research shows around 40% of 16-24-year-olds think donating to mental health awareness groups is the most important cause, followed closely by 25-34-year-olds — around 24% of people aged 55-64 agreed with this.
But why are millennials the most generous generation?
Well, according to the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator, 67% of Britons are more likely to support a charity that has affected them directly, which could explain why millennials are the most generous and consider mental health charities the most important.
Why does it feel good to give?
It’s important now more than ever for us to focus on our mental health and wellbeing and how we can help ourselves as well as others. Did you know that when we do things that make us feel good – whether this is having a productive routine or spending time with our loved ones – this stimulates the reward areas in our brain, creating positive feelings?
In simple terms, research has found that the feel-good chemical dopamine is released when we carry out certain activities, motivating us to do it again because we were rewarded with feeling good afterwards.
Although now a cliché, there’s research to back up that it’s better to give than to receive. Currently, the UK faces a challenging and unstable time with a volatile economy and job uncertainty. So while many of us excuse being uncharitable and thinking of ourselves because we’re too stressed and busy to worry about others, research points to the fact that helping others is actually not just beneficial for others but for ourselves, too – as selfish as that sounds.
How can helping others benefit us?
- Reduces stress
- Improves emotional and mental wellbeing
- Benefits physical health
- Brings a sense of belonging and reduces isolation
- Stops feelings of negativity
Research from 2018 reports that those who participate in volunteering projects, compared to those who do not, had significantly better health, life satisfaction, and social wellbeing. There is a direct neurochemical basis for giving and kindness — with brain imaging studies showing that donating to charity increases activity in the brain’s reward system, as mentioned previously.
It’s argued that public health should promote volunteering as an element to a healthy lifestyle — fruit, veg, water, exercise, and charity, especially for those who generally have poorer health and participate less in volunteering.
Integrating it into the national curriculum would also provide young people with consistent, high-quality opportunities throughout their childhoods and into early adulthood through work experience, university volunteering schemes, and graduate recruitment programmes.
What should we consider before getting involved in charity work and acts of kindness?
- Causes that mean a lot to you or interest you and the skills you have.
- Following organisations you support on social media so you can keep up with the conversation and donate, or sign-up to receive newsletters like the Mental Health Foundation’s newsletter.
- Contacting your local volunteer centre to find opportunities in your local area.
- Checking out national databases of charities and volunteering you can get involved in.
- Offering your expertise and support as a mentor.
- Checking in with a vulnerable neighbour who is isolated.
- Raising money by taking part in a fun challenge, such as a 5k run.
Charity work can be very rewarding and beneficial for our mental wellbeing. If you feel like you’re struggling with your mental health, book an appointment with your GP or visit Samaritans’ website for support.