Jewish ‘next gen’ major donors want impact

Despite research showing that new generations of Jews are less involved than previous generations in formal religious practice, Jewish “next gen” donors continue to fund Jewish organizations, and they identify religious and faith-based organization as the second most common area of their giving, a new report says.

Driving those donors in their giving are inherited values they often learn from their parents and grandparents, says the report, Next Gen Donors: The Future of Jewish Giving, from 21/61 and the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy.

Jewish next gen donors seek a balance between honoring and respecting their family legacy, while looking for ways to make an impact, says the report, which draws on research from another report, Next Gen Donors: Respecting Legacy, Revolutionizing Philanthropy, that the two groups released in February, and on dozens of statements from Jewish next gen donors.

Jewish next gen donors say they are not as involved in their families’ giving as they would like to be, and want a more active role.

Many say they are frustrated by the lack of formal engagement in their own families, and that they look elsewhere for meaningful philanthropic engagement and experience.

Like most next gen donors, the report says, Jewish next gen donors are looking for new and innovative ways to maximize the impact of their giving, and are exploring more hands-on experiences and shifting to more peer-oriented giving.

“Many Jewish organizations and Jewish families are reevaluating how to engage the emerging generation of Jewish donors who will carry the legacy of Jewish family giving into the future,” Michael Moody, Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University, says in a statement.

Todd Cohen

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