The emergence of the next generation is by definition a “trend” to watch in any field. As the younger generation begins entering the workforce and taking professional roles, they bring new needs, new ideas, new desires and demands. This leads to necessary adaptation and changes to practice. This is certainly true in the field of philanthropy.

The next-gen-driven transformations in philanthropy seem more dramatic than just normal generational succession. Today’s next gen — especially millennials and Gen Zers — is by many accounts revolutionizing giving and the nonprofit sector, while raising core questions about philanthropy itself in unprecedented ways. They are reconfiguring the donor landscape, upending norms in nonprofit organizational practice, and even blurring sector boundaries in ways that are redefining how people think of the best way to “do good.”

The next gen is — or soon will be — influencing everyone and everything connected to philanthropy.

To understand the trends being pushed by the current next gen, we have to recognize that we live in a more multigenerational world than at any point in history. People are living longer and staying active as donors, volunteers, and philanthropic professionals longer. As the older members of Gen Z enter adulthood (some are already in their 20s), they begin their careers in nonprofit organizations where baby boomers and perhaps even members of the “silent” or “Greatest” generations still work and/or serve on the board. It is not unheard-of for four generations of giving families be engaged in their joint philanthropic enterprise, and very common for three gens to sit together at the board table.

So, the changes brought by the rising next gen are emerging in this multigenerational context. And this can often lead to difficulty and friction, especially to the extent that the next gen becomes increasingly bold and the older gen remains resistant.

Read the full article about next-gen philanthropists by Michael Moody and Kevin Peterson at Johnson Center.