Study: Canadian millennials are more likely to give ethical gifts than boomers

study results

TORONTO, – December 12, 2019 – The idea that millennials are entitled, selfish, or “ruining” entire industries is an earworm conversation that’s been stuck in our social dialogue for a couple of years now. However, a new survey commissioned by Plan International Canada shines a light on the philanthropic side of this generation, with 83 per cent of Canadian millennials stating that they would rather receive ethical gifts this season instead of material ones.

With the holiday season in full swing – a time when consumerism is at its highest in North America – the survey was conducted to understand Canadian perceptions on ethical gift giving, and found the following:

  • Generation of giving: Millennials and Gen Z adults were the most certain about giving an ethical gift this year with 62 per cent saying yes, while boomers were the least certain, with just 47 per cent in agreement.
  • We get what we give: only 69 per cent of boomers are interested in receiving ethical gifts in comparison to 83 per cent of Gen Z adults and millennials.
  • Gender gap in wanting to receive ethical gifts: Women are significantly more likely to want to receive an ethical gift - 80 per cent vs 69 per cent for men.
  • Presenting a lesson:Of those purchasing an ethical gift this year, 46 per cent would do so in support of education.

study results

“Whether it’s headlines featuring Greta Thunberg and Autumn Peltier or our latest survey findings, it’s clear younger generations across genders exhibit a very high level of social awareness, justice and support, often championing causes that need urgent action on like climate change or gender equality,” said Saadya Hamdani, Director of Gender Equality, Plan International Canada. “It’s awe-inspiring to see most young Canadians actively contribute to the issues they are passionate about through philanthropy and other actions.”

additional findings

  • Almost 9 in 10 Canadians surveyed will consider giving or receiving ethical gifts this year over a material gift.
  • 48 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they’d consider adding an ethical gift that provides school essentials to a child in need to their wish list this year.
  • More than half of Canadians (54 per cent) would consider giving an ethical gift to teach a child or loved one about the importance of ethical gift giving, versus buying materials gifts this year
  • 94 per cent of Canadians with children in their homes said they would consider giving an ethical gift this year.
  • If purchasing ethical gifts this year, Canadians are most interested in gifts that support education, climate change/environmental causes, or children’s rights initiatives


Plan International Canada’sGifts of Hope are real gifts that change real lives of children and families around the world. They defy normal gift-giving conventions and make a lasting impact. The Gifts of Hope catalogue is filled with more than 50 gifts to choose from on any budget. Gifts of Hope are not symbolic – the gift you choose is exactly the gift that’s delivered.

Gifts of Hope has helped:


Hashtag: #GiftsofHope


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About Plan International Canada

Plan International Canada is a member of a global organization dedicated to advancing children's rights and equality for girls. We have been building powerful partnerships for children for over 80 years and are now active in more than 70 countries. We are calling on all Canadians to Defy Normal: to believe in the power and potential of every child and to take a stand anywhere children are oppressed, exploited or left behind and anywhere girls aren't equally valued. Together, we can create a world where all unleash their full potential. Visit for more information and follow @PlanCanada on social media to #DefyNormal and join the conversation.


Plan International Canada commissioned H+K Strategies to conduct an online survey of 1,000 Canadians over the period of October 24th to the 30th, 2019. Sampling was done within age, gender and region quotas. The survey was fielded in English. For Quebec, only English-speaking residents completed the survey.

Ethical giving is different from giving friends and family conventional gifts – these gifts are long-term and aim to have widespread, lasting impacts on the beneficiaries that receive them. The survey asked specific questions to understand what how Canadians would feel about teaching, giving, and receiving ethical gifts. Respondents were given a definition of ethical giving for context:

Ethical giving programs come in different forms. They can mean making a general donation to a charity in honour of loved one’s birthday, the holidays, or other special occasions. They can also be used to ensure a donation is assigned to a specific initiative or tangible item, like a goat (supplies milk for food to a family in need) or a menstrual hygiene kit for girls. Today, donors have options to choose from that allow them to find the gift that best suits their values and priorities.

Media contact:

Neha Soni
Plan International Canada
+1 437-828-9037