In the Greek tradition, the word philanthropy comes from the words “philos” meaning “love” and “anthropos” meaning “man” or “humanity” - The love of humanity.
A Philanthropist is someone who donates their money, time and/or talent to a cause that aims to improve lives and better the community. We may often think of a philanthropist as an ultra wealthy individual who has millions of dollars to donate (Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Jeff Bezos spring to mind). But anyone can be a philanthropist, regardless of status or net worth.
Great fulfillment comes from these selfless acts of kindness.
Every generation has their own approach towards philanthropy and the causes they choose to support. This is because our attitudes are influenced by our experiences. Each generation has lived through some major events that have shaped them. Understanding generational dynamics can help us understand generational trends in giving.
The GI Generation “Greatest Generation” born 1901-1924
This generation lived through the Great Depression and fought in WWII. They were greatly impacted by economic turmoil. They valued trustworthiness and relied on one another. One job or one marriage often lasted an entire lifetime. This great generation were more likely to give to religious causes.
The Silent Generation “The Silents” born 1925-1945
This generation was molded by World War II, the Great Depression and the Atomic Bomb. The "Silents" focused on their careers, valued hard work and dedication. They had great respect for authority and rules and grew up believing that ‘children should be seen and not heard’. This generation are big supporters of emergency relief, troops and veterans and religious causes.
Baby Boomers born 1946-1963
The Boomers (due to the rise in post-WWII birth rate) are a generation of workaholics. They value teamwork, growth and success. They are independent and self-reliant. Due to their belief in hierarchal structure, they may find it difficult to adjust to modern workplace flexibility trends. This generation heavily supports traditional institutions like colleges, libraries and religious organisations.
Generation X born 1964-1981
This generation grew up with minimal adult supervision and thus learned the value of independence and work-life balance. They were the first generation to grow up with computers and witnessed the birth of cell phones and the Internet. Gen-Xers were the first gamers. They have a strong desire to make the community better. They are more likely to give to nonprofits that focus on research and public policy, international affairs, and community development.
Generation Y / “The Millennials” born 1982-1994
Also known as the Digital Natives, this generation has grown up with digital services so they naturally align themselves with technology for communication, shopping, education, etc. They collaborate with each other and have a positive mindset. The Millennials are strong supporters of international causes and human rights.
Generation Z / “The Zoomers” born 1995-2012
Gen Z has been exposed to terrorism, economic instability, climate change and different humanitarian challenges around the world. As a result, Gen Z is eager to make this world a better place. This generation will often support environmental and social causes.
Gen Alpha / i-Generation born 2013-2025
This generation is growing up with the familiar voice of their friends ‘Siri’ and ‘Alexa’. From utilising facial recognition software to surgical robots, interacting with Artificial Intelligence will be second nature to members of Gen Alpha. This generation will be passionate supporters of climate change, LGBT+ and other human rights and advocacy …but with AI being integrated into online giving platforms and tools to enhance and expand philanthropic giving.
Despite the generational differences certain things have not changed;
- The demand for reliable professional advisors that can deliver trusted expertise
- The desire for lasting dependable relationships with these Advisors to ensure that family succession remain in safe hands
- The need for adaptability and understanding in order to accommodate varying generational views and values
- And thankfully, the love of humanity!
As trusted advisors how can we help?
· Make philanthropy a family affair
As you continue to develop your client’s family relationship make sure that each generation’s needs are listened to. Whether it is an informal family discussion, or the creation of a formal structure such as a Trust or foundation, you can assist in navigating generational differences by including multiple generations of your client’s family in these meetings.
· Be responsive
Speed is everything, especially when a client is requesting something that is time-sensitive. Reply to your client as soon as you can. In addition, keep your client updated on relevant matters - communication is essential.
· Address your communication avenues
Building a broader multichannel communication strategy will ensure you reach and engage all generations from traditional in-person meetings and direct mail approach to connecting through chats platforms, video conferencing and webinars. This may mean spending additional time and resources to optimise your digital communications.
· Engage the right people
Create your own philanthropic ‘toolkit’ of key advisors;
- Professional legal advisors experienced in the charity sector and philanthropic giving
- Proficient Tax advisors to provide solutions on how best to utilise available tax reliefs and allowances so as to maximise the benefit to the charity concerned
- Competent Investment Advisors to ensure that the right asset allocation strategy is created to support your clients investment objectives and ethics
- Philanthropic advisors to research topics a donor may be considering supporting and to look for opportunities for philanthropic funding to match the donor’s goals
- A professional and experienced corporate Trustee to advise individuals and families on philanthropy and charitable giving. To deliver their expertise on the creation of new charities, whether by way of a trust, foundation or corporate vehicle, and to assist on administrative, accounting, regulatory and compliance matters. The more skilled Trustee will also be well positioned to advise on cross-border giving, and on any practical issues that may arise.
· Always, always, always deliver!
Commit to those promises you made to your client and to yourself as their advisor. Go that extra mile and make a difference!
By taking time to listen, adapt and understand your client’s needs and their family’s diverse generational views and values, you will not only create long-term relationships but thoughtful stewards of your client’s wealth and their lasting legacy.