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July 9, 2013

Enlightened Philanthropy Asks: Are YOU Next Gen?


Enlightened Philanthropy

Are YOU Next Gen? An Insider’s Perspective


July 9, 2013

By Deborah Goldstein

A few months ago, I was sitting on an airplane headed to New York City for a two-day training with 21/64. I finally had some quiet time to read through their newly released Next Gen Donors research. I started with the brief, reading the highlights of the study first. And then, because I love to read research reports like this, I dove in to the interviews and the full report. As I read through the interviews, I could see my own thoughts about philanthropy reflected in the comments of the participants.

I Am Next Gen

At 30,000 feet, sitting in my confined seat on the plane with a single bright light shining on me and the research reports, I had an epiphany. I am next gen.

I am a member of Gen X. I contribute my time, talent, treasure, and ties to the organizations I care most about.

In fact, I’ve been in the nonprofit fundraising world for 15 years now, personally making an impact in a way I couldn’t necessarily with my treasure.  Having this insider’s perspective, I know the value of conducting due diligence on potential nonprofits I might support. And I know that evaluating my gifts over time allows me to determine if my dollars are making the greatest impact they can.

I’ve learned about philanthropy from my parents and grandparents. However, I also learn from my peers, weighing their opinions with mine. And I’m willing to tell my friends and family about the organizations that I’m impressed with or those that I’m not.

I care most about environmental causes and I continue to engage with those issues. This summer, I’m taking a dream trip to volunteer with a sea turtle conservation organization working in Nicaragua. I want to see what’s happening on the ground and do what I can to make a difference. This opportunity will allow me to see for myself how effective the organization is and what sort of measurable impact they are achieving.

Are YOU Next Gen?

Do any of my comments resonate with you? Do your philanthropic thoughts and actions seem similar?

The Next Gen Donors research focuses on Gen X and Gen Y/Millenials ages 21-40 who will eventually inherit $40 trillion in the coming years. Are you next gen? Like me, you may not be anticipating an inheritance. However, you might share some of the other traits found among this cohort.

  1. Are you driven by values, not valuables? Next Gen Donors want to honor the legacy of their parents and grandparents in their giving, while exploring emerging tools and opportunities.
  2. Are you focused on impact? In this respect, Next Gen Donors see themselves differently from those who have come before and want to see an impact as a result of their philanthropy. They are all about strategic philanthropy.
  3. Do you give your Time, Talent, Treasure, and Ties to causes you are passionate about? Next Gen Donors have added a new T to the list we’re familiar with: Ties. The time and talent they want to give is at a much deeper level, a very engaged, hands-on level. And they’re willing to bring their network or ties to the table too.
  4. Are you engaging in philanthropy now? Unlike those who have come before them, Next Gen Donors are engaging in philanthropy NOW instead of waiting until later in life. In the process, they are crafting their philanthropic identity by engaging in a way that allows them to learn more by seeing and doing.

Did you answer YES to these questions? Then you may just be Next Gen too!

I was pleasantly surprised to find my philanthropic actions aligned with the report findings and actually comforted to know that my fellow Gen Xers and the Millenials think similarly. Are you?

The report’s subtitle is “respecting legacy, revolutionizing philanthropy,” which I think is a great summation of what the Next Gen is contributing. I’m proud to be a part of this movement.

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