Trends in Young Philanthropy Are Cause for Optimism
By Gena Ricciardi
January 14, 2014
It’s 2014 and the lesson’s been learned: young people are changing philanthropy. Study after study has shown that individuals in their 20s and 30s are highly engaged in charity, and it seems the Chronicle of Philanthropy has a monthly article urging nonprofits to act accordingly.
Not only are they highly engaged…
One study found 83% of Millennials made a gift in 2012—the way they interact with nonprofits is different too. Whether they are thoughtfully sharing a video on Facebook, fundraising for a charity 5K, or choosing to buy from corporations whose brand aligns with their beliefs (environmental sustainability, marriage equality, you name it) young people have woven “doing good” into their everyday lives. They’ve witnessed 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the financial crisis of 2008, and they feel responsible to make a difference in their community; programs like City Year, the Peace Corps, and Teach for America have all seen an impressive increase in applications over the last decade.
They Do Their Research
When they decide to make a donation, they’ll do their research first, and trust the opinions of their peers more than any other source. They want to know how an organization spends its money, and they’re looking for concrete information about the measurable impact their gift can make. What’s more, they want the nonprofit to value them for more than just their gift, by engaging them in volunteer opportunities, networking, and on social media.
Boston NPOs Want Them
Boston, in true historical fashion, is leading the way to the future of American philanthropy. Numerous walks on the Esplanade, thousands of volunteers at the Boston Marathon, and even charity bar crawls are to be expected. Boston-based organizations are also learning fast: Boston Ballet, MFA, Isabella Stewart Gardner, YMCA, and Big Sisters of MA all have young giving societies.
Here at Fenway Health, we jumped on the bandwagon exactly four years ago. Our Young Leaders Council now boasts nearly 200 members who donate at least $25 a month, and together they contributed roughly $100,000 in 2013. The group welcomes LGBT leaders and allies who are interested in supporting Fenway’s mission and shaping their community’s future. With events ranging from a tour of the Harpoon Brewery, to a film screening with the Boston LGBT Film Festival, and a panel discussion about what it means to be an ally for the transgender community, Fenway Health and the YLC’s 25-member Steering Committee works to make sure there is something for everyone. The group will celebrate their success at the YLC Anniversary Party, a classy cocktail party coming up on Saturday, February 1st at the Revere Hotel.
Calls for Optimism
With the concept of “giving back” through donations and volunteering so deeply ingrained into the minds and hearts of this educated generation, we should all feel very optimistic about the future of philanthropy.