This is not news to X’ers, but we are the first generation in the US to be worse off financially than our parents, as recognized in an Associated Press article that hit the media today. I’m thrilled that the issue has claimed the attention of the AP but seeing the phenomenon written out in black and white, in hundreds of news sources across the country leaves me with a sour stomach. Why? Because it is accurate. Many GenXers and Millennials are living with very high student loan debt, little to no net worth and have been disproportionately affected by the mortgage and housing crisis.
To quote the article “The typical household headed by a person age 65 or older has a net worth 47 times greater than a household headed by someone under 35.“
Before you jump to the explanation that people accumulate wealth and assets as they age and we Xer’s just need to put our time in, the article is also quoted as saying that “the gap is now more than DOUBLE what it was in 2005 and five times what it was 25 years ago, after adjusting for inflation.” Yes folks, we are the first generation to do worse financially than our parents and our millennial friends behind us hold the same distinction.
This trend has vast consequences for our public and non profit organizations. Consider our donor base, philanthropy and planned giving best practices the industry has been using for decades. Ask yourself it they take this trend into consideration? In my experience, the answer is no. All of these activities are still very boomer and traditionalist focused. If you haven’t already come to this conclusion, let me be the first to lay it out, in black and white….the way we raise money to support our organizations today, is not what will be successful in a decade. I encourage you to review the AP article (or the subsequent flurry of articles resulting from the AP article-click here for the Chicago Tribune version) and begin the conversations in your organizations about this trend.
Finally, millions of Americans are struggling financially, that is not news. But the state of the economy from a GenX filter is news, at least it was today.