The New Age of Philanthropy

Notwithstanding the excess of negative stigmas circulating the millennial cohort, they are a group of consumers determined to generate real change in the world around them. What does the new age of philanthropy look like among millennials and how does this differ from previous generations?

In 2017, millennials became the world’s largest living generation, surpassing that of the baby boomers, and with their size comes significant influence in this new world of philanthropy. “Rather than making random or one-off donations, they are a generation characterised by integrating the causes they care about into their daily routines and purchase behaviours,” says Jeff Fromm, President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that concentrates on millennial trends.

This normalisation of giving is also characterised by a level of autonomy in that millennials do not limit their giving to single causes. “They [millennial generation] are deeply committed to ‘helping’ in the generic sense while not being married or dedicated to just one particular cause,” comments Barry Shore, founder of the fundraising platform “Whereas previous generations gave a third of their donations to religious-oriented causes, millennials believe in more self-directed giving.”

Millennials are also a generation who believe that giving and their philanthropy goes far beyond monetary donations. In South Africa, a 2017 survey of 6 000 volunteers found that while many millennials gave physical items and money, 90% of them believed their time was the most valuable donation they could make. “Our data shows that South Africans‚ and millennials in particular‚ are eager to give by getting involved in social projects‚ but they want a more personalised experience,” says South African Andy Hadfield, CEO of the research team and entrepreneur in the technology sector.

Hadfield’s research also noted distinct areas of philanthropic interest that millennials valued above others. “Most volunteers like to invest their time in education‚ community development, women‚ children and youth,” he says.

Non-profit organisations appear to be changing their philanthropic methods to match the desire for personal involvement that millennials favour in their giving. “The focus of these newer non-profits is giving [volunteers] a chance to be directly involved and assured that their [donations] are making a direct contribution to a cause,” says Derrick Feldmann, founder of the Millennial Impact Project, which researches how millennials engage with philanthropy.

“Historically, non-profit organizations were the gateway to do good,” explains Feldmann. He believes millennials no longer view organisations this way. “They are more concerned with addressing issues that matter to them, in the most direct way possible, and the organisation is simply a vehicle to make that happen.”

Ultimately, millennials are expanding the understanding of giving by what it means to ‘be philanthropic’. Rebecca Laramée, who chairs the board of Future Sinai, an organisation that provides medical funding, says [millennials] “are starting to realise that philanthropic capital isn’t the only way, or even the best way, to effect change. There are other forms of capital, [such as] intellectual capital [and] social capital, that are far more valuable.”

Millennials will also revisit the complexities of social issues, such as homelessness or mental health issues, that previous generations may have neglected, explains Laramée. “More research and new findings will start to address the core underlying problems of the causes we are giving to.”

– By The Philanthropic Collection –


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