It’s undeniable that as a charitable generation, millennials are rapidly catching up to (and even surpassing) baby boomers and Generation X. But there are some critical lessons millennials still need older generations to teach them.
Perhaps surprisingly to some, millennial entrepreneurs give more than twice as much of their money and time to charitable causes compared to baby boomer or Gen X entrepreneurs. A key takeaway from the latest “Millennial Impact Report” is that millennials utilize the power of collective action; millennials acting in individual small ways can create significant leverage as a larger group.
When you consider that many millennials earn less in real dollars than their predecessors, are burdened with increasing student debt and are years away from owning a homes, this data is encouraging. In fact, millennials are well on their way to becoming the most generous generation in history.
But a closer look at millennial giving indicates an important shift away from the philanthropic patterns of previous generations. The data indicates millennials give more online, in smaller amounts and to charitable groups aimed at relieving suffering rather than to traditional philanthropic organizations.
Of course, any charitable giving is laudable, but it’s important to discern a difference between philanthropy and charity. Charity focuses on easing the suffering caused by social problems, while philanthropy focuses on eliminating the social problems themselves. In short, the purpose of philanthropy is to improve the well-being of humankind by contributing to institutions and organizations that address long-term societal problems.
The problem is, millennials don’t think about philanthropy the way older generations do.