By now, most of us have read or heard about how the philanthropic world has responded — and is still responding — to the dual crises of 2020. At this time last year, as communities and nonprofits began to struggle with the consequences of the pandemic and the economic fallout, funders searched for ways to help (or at least not cause harm). Then came a national racial outcry and reckoning, raising tough questions about philanthropy’s often rocky relationship with social and racial justice.
We have since learned about the many foundations that, in response to the 2020 crises, have streamlined application processes, converted program grants to operating support, relaxed reporting requirements, and committed new dollars to emergency needs (Theis, 2020). Some funders also initiated new giving to social justice causes and advocacy groups or conducted internal reviews to bring a race equity lens to their grantmaking or operations procedures.
However, we’ve heard less about how one incredibly important cohort of major funders responded to 2020, the group of rising Gen X and millennials we call “next gen donors.” As Sharna and Michael have pointed out over the past few years, these next gen donors promise to be the most significant donors in history, due to their unprecedented resources (both earned and inherited), their already evident appetite for revolutionizing philanthropic norms and practices, and their willingness to experiment with new innovations.
How did next gen donors in their 20s, 30s, and 40s shift their giving patterns, if at all?
To help answer this question, we fielded a survey last summer asking next gen donors what they were doing — personally, with their extended family, or with their peers. We also asked next gen donors about this as we encountered them in our work. We received over 100 replies to the survey, filled with details of specific new ventures and family engagements, as well as stories of frustration as they scrambled to respond in appropriate yet effective ways.
We received over 100 replies to the survey, filled with details of specific new ventures and family engagements, as well as stories of frustration as they scrambled to respond in appropriate yet effective ways.
We summarize here four major categories of those next gen donors’ responses to the crises of 2020, many of which are now continuing into this new year.
- Still Looking to See Impact
- Going All In With All the Tools
- Leaning Into Relationships, Facing Their Power
- Bringing Racial and Social Justice to the Surface, for All Generations
Read the full article about next-gen donors by Sharna Goldseker, Michael Moody, and Holly Honig at Johnson Center.
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