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What is the Great Wealth Transfer, and how does this affect charitable giving? 

17 April 2024

At Barrer & Co, we take pride in keeping up to date with philanthropic trends that affect the giving behaviour of New Zealanders. To ensure that our strategic recommendations to not-for-profits are appropriate, and relevant to their communities, it is crucial that we stay abreast of any shifts that affect the economic climate – especially those that have the potential to affect public decision-making, and propensity to give. One significant shift that is relevant not only to New Zealand, but also to the sector internationally, is the Great Wealth Transfer (GWT). But what exactly is this, and why do we, as fundraisers, need to be aware?

In a nutshell, the GWT is the intergenerational transfer of wealth that will happen as the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers pass, and their collective wealth is redistributed through their network of whānau, loved ones, and causes they care about.

“The Silent Generation” refers to those who either fought during World War II or were born between 1928-1946. “Baby Boomers” refer to those who came next: 1946-1964. These generations are considered more affluent than the generations before and after them, due to the post-war boom of multiple world-wide economies, access to affordable property, and the significant rise in asset prices during their lifetimes. 

The exact figure of the GWT is difficult to pinpoint. As of late 2023, Forbes, Kiplinger, and Merrill (Bank of America) estimated that approximately US$84 trillion will change hands globally over the next 15-20 years. As of April 2024, it is estimated that New Zealanders will see NZD $1.11 trillion of that wealth.


As we approach an event that has not occurred to date in modern history, it is an exciting time to reflect on your organisation’s planned giving strategy.

Now more than ever, it is crucial that your organisation is fully set up to receive major gifts and bequest gifts. 


There are several steps your organisation can take to let your supporters know that they can leave a gift to your organisation in their Will. Updating your website with a dedicated page about bequest giving is one step that can be taken right now. 

If your organisation already has a strong bequest programme in place, are you considering the two new audiences (women, and millennials) in your gift in will materials?

To be truly ready to make the most out of this upcoming shift in wealth, we recommend taking the time to plan out this stream properly, and ensure all members of your fundraising team know how it works. 

This includes how you communicate your long-term goals, your need for major and bequest gifts, the risks involved, and the types of gifts your organisation can accept. Start thinking early about how your organisation plans to cultivate and steward potential donors and pledgers, and how you will market the bequest stream to your wider community.

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