With a focus on doing, sharing and making an impact, millennials are changing the face of philanthropy. Alex Sheen knows what you think about millennials. The 33-year-old would like to tell you that you’re wrong – and also maybe just a little bit right.
Six years ago, Sheen founded the charity, Because I Said I Would, after the death of his father to small cell lung cancer. Since then, the nonprofit has distributed more than 9.8 million Promise Cards to convey the importance of promises made and kept.
“My father was a man with an impossibly high work ethic, who always kept his promises,” says Sheen. “When the eulogy I gave honoring his life went viral, people assumed I was living at a much higher standard, and I suddenly had to be the embodiment of commitment and maturity.”
Sheen quickly went from a tech company employee who occasionally enticed co-workers to meetings by riding a tricycle though the office with a case of beer to a nonprofit leader who crisscrosses the country speaking about the importance of character education. It’s a transformation that bucks society’s assumptions about millennials. Popular opinion says that they are complacent, technology-obsessed and self-absorbed, but recent research in the world of philanthropy tells a different story.