Recently, I met with a family who has three children in their 20s. For the parents, philanthropy is a given. They tend to support causes honoring the legacies of past generations. Despite the parents’ attempts to engage them, their kids hadn’t been as interested in such pursuits, focused instead on the competing priorities of school, jobs, friends and extracurricular activities. 

In her book with Michael Moody, “Generation Impact: How Next Gen Donors are Revolutionizing Giving,” Sharna Goldseker speaks to the top three reasons for giving among the next donor generation. Millennials, she explains, are supporting a mission or cause fitting in with their personal values; fulfilling their duty as a person of privilege to give back to society; and are looking to see that their contribution is making a real difference, and that the organization has impact. She says: “As these people are entering the working world and having more resources, they care about values more than valuables, and make choices in alignment with those values.” 

When the pandemic hit, these reasons for giving that Goldseker discusses became top of mind for many young donors who were more directly confronted with loss of jobs, homes, and access to food, overcrowding of hospitals, inequitable health care, racial injustice and systemic economic and social inequities. 

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