Today we co-hosted another installment of our ongoing speaker series “Reflections on Philanthropy from Today’s Leaders,” which addresses emerging topics in philanthropy with rising leaders in the sector. Today’s session focused on so-called “NextGenDonors” (or, in hashtag form, #nextgendonors) and featured Sharna Goldseker of 21/64 and Kim Wright, The Seattle Foundation’s director of donor services.
Kim led off by describing how The Seattle Foundation has worked with 21/64 to engage next-generation donors in philanthropy. “How do you integrate four generations’ interests across business succession, wealth management and philanthropic giving?” Kim asked.
Sharna then walked us through some of the highlights from NextGenDonors, a survey- and interview-based research project she undertook in 2013 to investigate generational attitudes towards giving — not just among rising generations, but also among their parents and grandparents. “By 2050, over $40 trillion in wealth will be transferred from one generation to the next,” she reminded us. And average lifespan has increased from 47 in 1900 to around 80 today. That means that it’s not just two generations involved in these transfers, but up to four generations. “Grandparents, parents and children are becoming peers,” she observed. “They have to learn how to do business together.”
After a brief overview of the core experiences and attitudes of the four current living adult generations, which you can find in Sharna’s presentation slides, Sharna dove right into her key research findings:
NextGenDonors are driven by values
The #1 reason why NextGenDonors say they give is to support a cause that fits with personal values. Their #2 reason is to fulfilling their duty as person of privilege to give back to society. Tangible benefits and/or recognition ranked very low in their list of reasons for giving.
Influenced by family
NextGenDonors said that they were influenced in their philanthropy most by their parents, then by their grandparents, then by their close friends and last by their peers. This counter-intuitive finding (aren’t we all supposed to be mostly influenced by peers?) underscores the importance of facilitating an intergenerational conversation.
While many NextGenDonors feel their parents are motivated by obligation and/or recognition, NextGenDonors are motivated by strategy and impact, which has five key elements:
- Research/due diligence
- Identifying charitable goals + strategies first, then finding organizations that fit.
- Systemic solutions
- Information about org effectiveness
- Recommending causes/organizations to others
Time, treasure, talent & ties
NextGenDonors are very hands-on. They to listen and be a thought partner — to serve organizations, not sit on boards. Nonprofits need to engage them with meaningful volunteer experiences that allows them to understand how they are making a difference.
NextGenDonors believe that sharing information with peers make them better donors. rise of collective giving experiences. They trust their experiences and those of their peers more than other information, and it is critical to engage them with experiences — not just information.