Is the entitled generation comprised of millennials also the philanthropic generation? Many people assume that millennials have fleeting passions and pursue causes, but are not charitable. Reliable data indicates that it is, and charities better learn how to engage their new donors or risk loosing them. https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2018/08/15/how-millennials-are-changing-philanthropy/?sh=1eee5a2d7c68 The generation that we often criticize for being selfish, technology-absorbed, bratty, and spoiled may be taking on a new title: the philanthropic generation.
That is right – philanthropy has a new face, and it’s younger than you probably imagined. According to reports from Entrepreneur and NBC, among others, millennials are actively trying to buck the trend of the “selfish” label that has been following them in recent years. An incredible 84 percent of millennials donated money to a charitable cause in 2014, and 70 percent spent at least one hour doing volunteer work–two of the largest means of contributing and giving back to one’s community. The trend is on the rise. Nearly 3 out of 4 millennials donated during the pandemic. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/29/more-millennials-donated-money-during-the-pandemic-than-other-generations.html
Among the many negative qualities often associated with the millennial generation is the almost insurmountable burden of student debt they have racked up. This has become such a controversial and burdensome issue that it has been discussed thoroughly in presidential politics and has made its way into mainstream media: the average student graduates with almost $30,000 in student loan debts. And what generation is the one that’s currently graduating (or getting there, or having just graduated): the ever-generous millennials, of course.
Though weighed down by student loans, part-time work, Bernie Sanders attitude towards social welfare, and an unimpressive job market, Gen Y-ers managed to contribute an average of $481 dollars per person, per year in recent studies.
In a totally different paradigm of generosity, millennials outshine all other generations in terms of their propensity for crowdfunding. A relatively new concept that was ushered into the spotlight as technology has continued to advance, crowdfunding seems to fit the millennial build almost to a T. It is web and internet-based, allowing for the technology-enhanced giving model that millennials have quickly adopted to come into play. It is feedback oriented and is perceived to have a “cool” factor. According to Entrepreneur, “Millennials are a whopping three times more likely than Baby Boomers to donate to a crowdfunding campaign and 70 percent more likely than Gen Xers.”
Although older generations tended to give more money per person in the grand scheme of things, the tendency for younger people to continue the trend of philanthropy could be pointing to a good sign for the future. If millennials who are in debt and potentially making meager salaries are inclined to donate to philanthropic causes now, the future of philanthropy could be in for increased donations as Gen-Y grows older and more financially secure, while maintaining a charitable outlook on life.
In light of the charitable constitution of millennials, nonprofits should not overlook the gen y , and should invest time to better understand what is important to them. To accomplish this, philanthropic organizations, including those with a policy or political mission, ought to consider the importance of technology in drawing in their new donors. This means social media, blogs, sticky web sites, and tech savvy donor campaigns need to replace mailers and stale old-world pitching methods.
The charities that become early adapters in the world of technology driven capital campaigns will be the winners with the gen y crowd.
Yuri Vanetik is an attorney and private investor.