The creativity of generosity

Discover the five primary expressions of generosity and a tool to help understand your style of giving

See how you express generosity through five main categories called Generosity Express

Think about some of your earliest memories of generosity. You might recall people welcoming you into their home, neighbors sharing a meal or a close friend’s support during a difficult time.

Over the past two years, Thrivent has been on a journey to learn more about generosity and how it shows up in big and small ways, planned and unplanned. Our research was driven by a desire to understand how generosity shows up across different generations, from Gen Z (ages 13 to 20) to elders (ages 73-plus).

We discovered that the ways people express generosity fall into five categories we call Generosity Expressions. These expressions shed light on how people choose to be generous. The five Generosity Expressions are hospitality, emotional-relational support, gifts, monetary support and volunteering & service.

U.S. Christians: In what ways are you most frequently generous to others?
Bar chart showing how U.S. Christians choose to be generous, described in detail below. 1Research conducted by Barna Group (2019).

Emotional-relational support is the number one way in which people live out their generosity. There are opportunities to be supportive every day through compassionate listening, encouragement, providing comfort and being present for someone. Becoming aware of opportunities to provide emotional-relational support can help you grow in this expression of generosity.

"It’s about making an intentional investment to be involved in the lives of others. You can support them in their dreams and be there through the ups and downs of life."

Each of us is on a unique generosity journey, one that changes over time. And each generation has a different propensity for being generous. For example, 12% of millennials say they are most frequently generous through hospitality, compared to 2% of baby boomers. And while 41% of elders demonstrate generosity through monetary support, 30% of gen-xers prefer to offer emotional-relational support.

As you reflect on the ways you give and receive generosity daily, check out this tool built just for you. The Generosity Expressions Profile is a quick assessment that gives an accurate and encouraging picture of your generosity across the five categories. Take the assessment, be generous and share it with two other people!