Linda Dickerson Hartsock and her son, Peter at Syracuse University

Millennials and their Impact on Multigenerational Philanthropy

Giving Voice Spring 2019: Giving Matters

The next generation is poised to assume leadership in our companies, organizations and communities. Not only will millennials make up the largest demographic in the American workforce by 2020, but they are also set to inherit unprecedented wealth as part of the largest wealth transfer in U.S. history. As millennials’ purchasing power grows, so too will their potential for philanthropic impact. For families who wish to maintain a multi-generational legacy of giving, it is important to start engaging millennials in charitable discussions.

As older generations prepare to pass the baton, it is important to talk about what is being passed down. However, it is equally imperative to understand what younger generations bring to the table. Just like the differences between baby boomers and prior generations, millennials are approaching philanthropy in their own unique way. The Millennial Impact Report conducted in 2015 by the Case Foundation found that millennials may want to give to similar causes as their predecessors, but they also want to have deeper and more engaged relationships with the nonprofits they support. They want to go beyond the act of simply giving money and sitting on boards or committees of nonprofit organizations. Instead, millennials want to play an active role in creating impact.

For millennials, collaboration is key. Here are some steps your family can take together to create a multi-generational charitable legacy:

Start a conversation about personal and family values. Explain what’s being passed down from generation to generation and ask questions to ascertain how those values align with individual core beliefs.

Share your stories and experiences. Talk about your family history and your vision for your legacy to encourage shared understanding and appreciation of the family narrative.

Engage younger generations with volunteer opportunities. Select a favorite nonprofit organization in your community and discuss your family’s connection to the cause.

Invite younger generations to participate in your charitable decision-making process. Listen to their suggestions and encourage them to play a larger role in helping to define your family giving.

Introduce heirs or other successors to your advisors to help them build close relationships with the people who will steward your family’s philanthropic legacy.

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