Emerging donors aim for impact, involvement

The next generation of major donors is set to be the “most significant philanthropists in history”, and those donors are driven by values and a desire to make a big impact and be closely involved in causes they support, a new report says.

Those donors, who were born between 1964 and 2000 and are expected to inherit an unprecedented $40 trillion, want to respect the legacy of previous generations of donor while using “new, innovative, even risky strategies to make their giving more effective,” says the report from 21/64 and the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The report, Next Gen Donors: Respecting Legacy, Revolutionizing Philanthropy, is based on a national online survey of 310 high-capacity donors and 30 in-depth individual interviews.

Despite the expectation of many people that those next-generation donors will be “entitled by privilege, careless with legacy, and eager for change,” the report says, the opposite is true.

“Values drive these next gen major donors, not valuables — values they often say they have learned from parents and grandparents,” the report says.

Those donors see philanthropic “strategy” as the main factor that distinguishes them from previous generations, it says.

“They intend to change how decisions are made and how research and due diligence are conducted, utilizing multiple sources for information and all of the ‘tools in the toolbox,’” it says.

Those donors also want to develop close ties with groups or causes they support, it says.

“Giving without significant, hands-on engagement feels to them like a hollow investment with little assurance of impact,” the report says.

And they believe that collaborating with peers “makes them all better donors, and extends their impact,” it says. “Put simply, they want to give the full range of their assets — their treasure, of course, but also their time, their talents, and even their ties, encouraging others to give their own time, talent, treasure and ties.”

Todd Cohen

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