Giving Compass' Take:

• Exponent Philanthropy discusses the status of youth-driven grantmaking and how more respect is needed for the development of next gen giving.

• What are we doing to encourage the energy and passion of young people involved in nonprofit work? How can we foster better relationships among different age groups?

• Here's more on how to cultivate the activism of younger people for social progress.

Despite the growing number of youth philanthropy programs in the United States, a 2002 survey found that “only 48 percent of adults believe it is important to seek young people’s opinions when making decisions that affect them.” As Katie Richards-Schuster, a professor at University of Michigan stated in 2012, “In general, American society, through its policies and practices, tends to focus on the construction of youth as vulnerable and at risk at best, and as problems at worst.” However, we know that through youth philanthropy programs where young people are given decision-making power as well as provided with mentorship, communities thrive.

For our recent publication, “From Beneficiary to Active Agent: How Youth-Led Grantmaking Benefits Young People, Their Communities, and the Philanthropic Sector,” we interviewed young people and adult supporters involved in highly democratic and inclusive youth philanthropy. A common theme from the interviews was the vital nature of trust and power sharing between young people and adults. We know that adults who oversee youth philanthropy programs should cede control to young people and allow them to make decisions that will help their communities — but there are barriers to this. A few common perceptions shared by young people were:

  • People think that because we are young we don’t know what our communities need.
  • People think that because we are young we can’t create change.
  • People think that because we are young they have to make decisions for us.
  • People think that because we are young we won’t work well together.

Read the full article about youth philanthropy and trust by Sheryl Seller at Exponent Philanthropy.