There is a cohort of the younger generations, particularly Generations Y and X, who stand to inherit an unprecedented amount of wealth — somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 trillion. So, what do they plan to do with it and which types of entities stand to be the recipients of their largesse?
“These generations … have the potential to be the most significant philanthropists in history and we really don’t know that much about them,” said report co-author and sociologist Michael Moody, who also serves as the Frey Foundation chair for Family Foundations and Philanthropy at the Johnson Center.
This cohort, according to the survey, wants to get its hands dirty, prioritizing direct relationships with the entities they donate over merely writing checks. This rejection of “checkbook philanthropy” is one of two findings Moody found most surprising. “They want to get their hands dirty, to serve in meaningful ways, not just sit on boards or party planning committees,” said Moody during an e-mail exchange Thursday. “They want to be taken seriously — not only in the future but now — as talented partners with organizations, who bring skills and expertise to the table.”
Moody was also surprised by the coming generation’s unwillingness to do away with past traditions. “They are certainly enthusiastic about innovation and willing to take risks and try non-traditional approaches to philanthropy,” said Moody, “But this doesn’t mean they want to discontinue all traditional forms of giving, that they give to radically different causes or for radically different reasons, or – most notably perhaps – that they care little for the family legacies they are inheriting.”
Asked why the report was initiated now, Moody said, “They hold the future of major philanthropy in their hands. As they start to engage more in that future, we need to know more about how they think about, learn, and practice philanthropy.”
They are more likely than their families to give to civil rights/advocacy and environment/animals causes, and international organizations, as the next generations are thought to be relatively more focused on global causes versus domestic.