For some time I have been following the philanthropic and legacy
efforts of Generations X and Y and how they differ from Traditionalists and
Boomer generations in general. Also I’ve been advising on conflicting
approaches within families that financial advisors and planners often need to
address with their clients. So the report “Next Gen Donors: Respecting Legacy,
Revolutionizing Philanthropy” by 21/64 and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy
caught my interest. I found the conclusions align pretty much with my more
limited research and my experiences working with inter-generational workplace
The examples of what twenty-somethings are doing are quite
enlightening. As always they want to do it their own new way, not only in their
use of technology, but also in making it about connecting with other people.
Though some of the young people I worked or spoke with had substantial wealth,
most others were finding ways to donate very limited assets and make them add
up to become very meaningful contributions.
are the typical elements I noticed
concerning this philanthropic activities.
- The younger generations
are looking for an “experience.”
- They prefer ongoing
involvement rather than an annual event.
- What really juices many
of them is to be able to connect directly to the recipient of their
- They use e-mail blasts
to urge everyone they have ever come in contact with to join in. They are
very open in their connections and it’s all about connecting.
- They like voting for
“the person who contributes the most…” and cash awards and recognition.
- They are drawn to
compete in contests; they like competitions and prizes.
to Sharna Goldseker, Managing Director of 21/64, consultants on
strategic philanthropy and the generations, beneath the surface of much of the
under 35-year-old involvement in philanthropic projects is a search for their
in mind that the Gen Y way is another search for community much as Gen X did,
but perhaps for different reasons and with a desire for individual attention.
Gen X originally sought community at work because it was missing for them
outside of work. Gen Y has been educated in a more collaborative environment
and it is their modus operandi.
definitely see the desire to be hands on and to produce measurable change with
their giving. Interestingly, this has been characteristic of the Boomer
generation of women donors and something I personally very much relate to. All
my professional life I have observed that women donors don’t simply want to
for the under 35 year olds in families with foundations desiring to maintain
family bonds as philanthropists, that is not surprising. Gen X and Yers are
typically quite family-centric. The tension comes.from wanting to have a strong
voice and their own style of philanthropy while maintaining family harmony
don’t think they have to wait to be older and richer. They think they can make
meaningful contributions right away, and they do it creatively with new methods
Phyllis Weiss Haserot www.pdcounsel.com.