Worth's Guide to Next-Gen Giving
Millennials and Gen Z might seem as though they belong to the most self-obsessed generation in history, but they are actually poised to earn a different reputation altogether—the most philanthropic. Like their parents, the youth of today have a strong sense of morality, they simply act on it in a different way. The term “next-gen giving” represents a cultural shift toward a more involved form of philanthropy, one that extends beyond charitable donation and demands greater awareness and accountability for everyday actions.
Connection Is Crucial
As technological natives who grew up with a handheld connection to millions of people, millennials and Gen Z have been exposed to an exponentially larger community than their predecessors. This increased exposure has resulted in a fortified sense of moral justice and responsibility, not just within their own physical communities, but on a national and even global scale. Organizations know that social media is where they will reach millions of next-gen philanthropists, and they cater to them on these platforms. Likewise, content creators promote impactful charities, organizations and movements, asking their viewers to get involved in a variety of different ways—that could be by signing a digital petition, making a small donation or liking and commenting on a post in order to boost it within the algorithm, among many other things. Additionally, social justice movements take social media by storm, sharing ways to help with millions of users. A prime example of this is the GoFundMe account shared in the wake of George Floyd’s murder to help support his family’s legal and travel fees—in just 24 hours, 50 thousand people had raised $1.8 million to support the fund, and just two weeks later, that number had grown to $13.7 million. Because of the connectivity, resources and exposure provided to the next generation of philanthropists from an early age, they have the ability to make an impact now, regardless of their net worth or income; and as most philanthropists would agree, once your eyes are opened to the impact you can have, stopping doesn’t feel like an option.
Loud, Conscious Consumers
Beyond the impact that can be made through raising awareness and money on social media, the next generation of philanthropists is taking an active role in controlling their impact on the economy. They are a generation of conscious consumers, taking an interest in where their products come from, how they are made and what impact they have on the environment. Connectivity plays an important role here as well, as lists of Black and women-owned businesses are circulated at large, along with brands that are having a positive social or environmental impact. Aligning purchasing habits with their strong sense of moral values is a natural step for the next generation of philanthropists—however, the battle between convenience and impact is undoubtedly one to watch as the two things most dear to the next generation come to a head. Despite the temptation and growing convenience of one-click purchasing, the next generation has been able to maintain a strong sense of social and environmental responsibility when it comes to their purchasing habits, and it will be interesting to see how these two factors interplay in the years to come.
An Army of Activists
Lastly, next-gen philanthropists have lived through many events that have contributed to a generational sense of urgency and need for activism. From the 2008 economic crash, global climate change, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and #MeToo to COVID-19, the insurrection and global political unrest, change—and calls for change—have become the norm. While Gen Z, in particular, has been criticized for their perceived inclination to talk about issues without fully understanding the steps required to generate real change, it cannot be denied that they have established themselves as a generation that will not stand for injustice—and they don’t do anything quietly. An example of this is the protest that took place outside the COP26 summit in November. There, tens of thousands of protesters and activists took to the streets of Glasgow to call for business and political leaders to do more and push for “system change, not climate change.”