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PARTNER INSIGHTS: How and Why to Target Donors without Children

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

When it comes to predicting the likelihood of philanthropy, one of the most significant factors is whether or not a prospective donor has children. According to philanthropy expert Russell James, the most dominant predictor of estate planning, by far, is the absence of children. Furthermore, among donors over the age of 50 who already have an established will or trust, 50% of those without any offspring have a charitable estate plan today.

Not only are childless donors more likely to give, but their gifts also tend to be larger – more than double the size of planned gifts from donors with children. Currently, there are approximately 8.8 million childless Americans with wealth in excess of $1 million. Furthermore, nearly 600,000 people who are single and childless have seven-figure wealth. These totals are growing rapidly, and Baby Boomers sit atop the giving pyramid, with the number of childless 80-somethings expected to double by the 2040s.

And, of course, there are many prospective donors who are simply flying under the radar. According to the Giving USA 2019 report, many "surprise bequests" in recent years have come from donors whose wealth may have been unknown, but all of whom share the following similar characteristics:

  1. They were childless

  2. They were married

  3. They had a personal experience or connection with the organization

The 2019 Giving USA report referenced a couple of real-life examples of this. First, there was the 63-year-old social worker who died of cancer, leaving gifts totaling $11 million to children’s charities with which he had a personal connection.

Jane Kesson, a retired music teacher who also happened to be childless, bequeathed $4.7 million to the Philadelphia Orchestra. One interesting thing to note about these two individuals is that their family and friends were completely unaware of the wealth they’d accumulated.

The key to both of these stories, of course, is that the individuals referenced had existing relationships with the organizations to which they donated. This is where nonprofits should pay particular attention. Developing and cultivating those connections over the years is essential to ingratiating your cause into the hearts and minds of childless donors who are looking to make an impact and leave a lasting legacy.

Of course, the first step in this process involves determining which donors actually fall into the childless and therefore likely-to-give category. That’s where a service like TouchPoints can make a significant impact. Using advanced data analytics, nonprofit organizations can quickly identify these donors, saving time and money, and ultimately maximizing their fundraising efforts. To learn more about how this technology can help your organization, start a conversation today.


The Strategic Partners Network is a curated collection of vendors and specialists who share our values and mission to create change and develop growth. PARTNER INSIGHTS allows for members of our Strategic Partner Network to share innovative concepts and strategies to support nonprofits and social impact organizations. Be on the lookout for future PARTNER INSIGHTS featured on Lipton Strategies blog.

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