Philanthropy has become an increasingly important tool for individuals to drive change and express their values, with Millennial and Gen Z donors particularly engaged in addressing issues of systemic inequality and social justice. While a small number of funders currently operate in the social justice grantmaking space, many more are interested in how to grow their commitments to inclusion, equity, and justice — and can learn from donors already active in this space.

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) recently released a report focused on this approach to giving: “Moving Money and Shifting Power for Social Justice: Voices of Wealthy Next-Gen Donors.” The study provides a qualitative deep dive into the motivations and behaviors of 28 wealthy Millennial and Gen Z donors to social justice. Participants were selected from Resource Generation, a leading organization in the social justice philanthropy movement with a mission to “organize young people with wealth and class privilege in the U.S. to become transformative leaders working towards the equitable distribution of wealth, land and power.” Honing in on this subset of young, wealthy, and social-justice-minded donors, these observations serve as a window into trends in giving from younger generations and look at how the philanthropic sector can best respond.

Who Matters

Looking first at the demographic makeup of the small group, the study participants were predominantly female donors, many of whom identify as queer or part of the LGBTQ+ community. Nearly 70 percent identified as women and 21 percent as nonbinary, which mirrors the broader demographic makeup of Resource Generation. This may suggest that women are more drawn to social justice work; past research also found that high-net-worth women may be drawn to addressing systemic issues of inequality because of their gender-specific experiences of discrimination and difference.

Still, these participants identify in a multitude of ways, with other aspects of their identities such as their ethnicity, faith, or sexual orientation also fueling their giving motivations. Nonprofits should both understand and value the philanthropic power that women can and do bring to the space and be sure their practices are inclusive of women and other underrepresented groups. Additionally, it’s important to recognize the influences that these individuals may have with their roles in family foundations.

Read the full article about social justice philanthropy by Elizabeth Dale, Ph.D. and Jeannie Infante Sager at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.