The New Wave: Creating a place for millennials in   the work of community foundations

Jan 01, 2015 | by
  • Description

Over the past 20 years, community foundations across North America and internationally have invested heavily in developing and implementing "Youth in Philanthropy" programmes and related youth engagement initiatives. Up to this point in time, the majority engaged have been members of the Millennial generation: those born between 1982 and 2003. The New Wave examines how, in an era of great generational shifts, reconnecting with program alumni and engaging the Millennial generation more broadly, is beneficial from the perspectives of community strengthening, donor engagement, and grantmaking. This position paper documents the history of youth programming at community foundations, with a focus on North American trends. Global initiatives are also discussed. A wide range of existing research on the characteristics of the generation is compiled and highlighted, including: civic-mindedness; the impact of globalization; diversity; intercultural competency; intergenerational transfer of wealth; struggle for financial independence; digital interconnectedness; institutional trust levels; and giving motivations and behaviors. This evolving character profile is applied to the current work of community foundations to build recommendations for creating inclusive, authentic, and relevant platforms for re/engagement with the group. Recommendations outline the role foundations can play as vehicles for Millennial-specific engagement in a community-strengthening and donor capacity, including: the development of alumni and intergenerational donor engagement strategies; investigating community partnerships for social enterprise; investing in asset-based giving platforms; and adapting technology to encourage democratized philanthropy.