A recent study conducted by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave tells an intriguing story about how Boomers want to give back in retirement -- to the extent that the study portrays the phenomenon as "America's Longevity Bonus."
According to the study, which suggests there will be a surge in giving over the next two decades, almost two-thirds (65%) of retirees say retirement is the best time to give back. In fact, when contributions of both money and time are considered, retirees lead the nation in giving, responsible for 42% of the money given to charity, and 45% of the total volunteer hours given to charity. This translates into about $6.6 trillion of charitable contributions and $1.4 trillion of value in volunteer hours that retirees will contribute in the U.S. from 2016 to 2035.
Giving improves a Boomer's self-worth, too. According to the study, 59% of retirees who give or volunteer say they have a strong sense of purpose versus 43% of those who do not give or volunteer. Of those who give or volunteer, 57% say they have high self-esteem vs. 51% of those who do not give or volunteer, and 66% of givers say they are happy vs. 52% of those who are not givers. A resounding 85% of retirees say "being generous" better defines success in retirement vs. 15% who say "being wealthy" defines success.
There is a gender difference: Women are more likely to say giving is a high priority in retirement than men, and women are more likely to give in retirement than men.
When it comes to making giving decisions, 77% of married retirees say it is "very important to have in-depth conversations about giving with their spouse."
My wife and I can bear testament to the above data. We have both given money and volunteered our time for years, even agreeing on one primary organization to which we devote most of our efforts. We consider ourselves part of that organization's mission and feel good about giving back at this stage of our lives.
This study is fascinating and should provoke thoughtful consideration and discussion. You can read it here.