Approaching the Generational Divide

In the information age, it is clear that traditional modes of philanthropic giving such as phone-a-thons, mail solicitations, and traditional foundation resonate less with today's young people. This presents a unique challenge, as new methods must be developed to inspire and encourage philanthropy while still retaining many of the 'tried and true' ways familiar to the preceding generations. Additionally, while members of Generations X and Y are not known for honoring the social norms of polite society, privilege and money are increasingly uncomfortable topics for discussion. According to contemporary sociologist Robert Wuthnow, "Money is perhaps the topic that remains most subject to deep norms of stricture and taboo. More than sex, heath, death or any other aspect of personal life, it is the one most difficult for us to discuss in public" (Kass, 219). Without discussing dollar figures, recognizing the advantages that accompany privilege and teaching stewardship of wealth are necessary to lead the next generation to meaningful philanthropic involvement.

Despite the challenges, leaders from this age cohort have emerged to ensure the future of charitable giving. Several inspiring individuals have stepped up to confront the obligations that accompany privilege by creating non-profit organizations that offer education, support and training. These leaders have paved the way for the future of philanthropy and inspire others to make change through their access to wealth. Two such organizations are Resource Generation LINK: and 21/64. LINK In addition to there are several organizations designed to support multi-generational philanthropy. One such place is the Jewish Funders Network LINK provides philanthropy programs for families as well as a plethora of other services.

Resource Generation
According to their mission, Resource Generation engages young people with financial means who supporting and challenge each other to effect progressive social change. They seek to use financial and other resources to create change in creative and responsible ways. The group seeks to aid young people with wealth in the complex process of aligning their personal and political ideals with their philanthropy and investments. Looking to cross the boundaries created by wealth, they aim to strengthen cross-class cooperation in an effort to make change.

The basic premise of Resource Generation is a simple one, in order to make change in the world we need to know our history and ourselves. Adults of this generation who grew up in privilege and have adopted liberal or even radical values can feel embarrassed by their privilege and reject the world in which they were raised. Resource Generation offers programs to help individuals confront privilege and use their access to wealth and power to create the social change that matters to them.

In addition to Classified, RG's resource on addressing privilege, Creating Change through Family Philanthropy: the Next Generation addresses the challenges of multi-generational philanthropy. Cooperation between age brackets is especially important considering the estimation that the transfer of wealth over the next 55 years to the next generation is cited as $41 trillion dollars. This could be a 'golden age of philanthropy', but many families struggle to involve the next generation in the same modes and methods of charitable giving that reflect the values of a previous generation.

Creating Change Through Family Philanthropy gives member of this 'next generation' tools to both participate in and transform the field of family giving. Including personal stories and concrete steps to take, this book can serve as a guide to young people who seek a relevant way to be involved in the philanthropic work of their families. This also can help people the tools they need to not just participate but help transform the field itself. Complete with personal stories and exercises, this guide is also an essential resource for anyone who works with families with wealth.

Creating Change Through Family Philanthropy
Goldberg, Alison & Karen Pittleman, Resource Generation.
Soft Skull Press, 2007.

Addressing the enormous transfer of wealth that will take place within the next decades, 21/64 aims to address generational differences that cause conflict when multiple generations of a family gather at a conference table. As a division of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, 21/64 serves individuals to federations in times of generational transition. By facilitating the process of values clarification, strategic visioning and communicating, the experts at 21/64 recognized the challenges of family philanthropy and address them head on.