Igniting Generation Next by Gioia Perugini

“Adults like us when we have strong test scores, but they hate us when we have strong opinions.”

“We are the turn of this century. We are the voice of change. We are here to fix what America is falling short of.”

“We, as youth, must now be the change that we seek. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

“In our generation, we feel we have to get out, make our decisions and decide whom we want to follow, whom we want to vote for, what we want to do , where we want to give back. I think that’s the power of our generation right now.”

These are the words of our young people. From Parkland to D.C. and in cities and towns in between, the past few months have confirmed that the power of youth and their ability to engage with the challenges in our communities is undeniable.

I spend a lot of time thinking about engaging the next generation, both as a parent and as a philanthropy professional who works with individuals and families. Having spent a lot of time working with Baby Boomers and their children, we are increasingly focused on Generation Z, which includes young people born after 1995. We are learning a lot from them.

Here’s what we know about this generation, thanks in part to Jess DeVlieger from CSpace. Born after 1995, this generation is 2 billion strong world-wide, and is on track to become nearly 26% of the U.S. population. They are the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in U.S. history. They are the most technologically literate generation, having literally grown up with an iPhone in their hands (the technical term is “digital native.”) It’s been said that they could swipe before they could talk.

Gen Z takes advantage of the resources available to them and are acutely self-aware of their ability to find the answers to anything they need. They grew up on community service, and have been civically engaged, with their Gen X parents and on their own, from a very early age. Among Gen Z, an impressive 26% have raised money for a cause, and the same percentage volunteer on a regular basis; 32% have donated their own money. As importantly, they focus on solving problems over serving needs. Gen Z also has an estimated $44 billion (and growing) in purchasing power. More interesting information about this generation is available here.

Whatever your politics, the power, technological savvy and perspective of young people is undeniable. We ignore them at our peril. Earlier this month, Hemenway & Barnes hosted a breakfast exploring how “Generation Z” engages with the world of social change, civic engagement, nonprofits, and philanthropy, during which we had the unique chance to hear directly from young people themselves.

I have several take-aways from this panel that I share for your consideration.

  1. Gen Z is building a truly inclusive youth movement. The participants spoke eloquently about the importance of including all voices in their call for change. Black or brown, gay or straight, city or country, young people want to work across traditional divides.
  2. They value peer mentorship and the exchange of ideas from within their peer group. They trust one another, sometimes more than they trust government, nonprofits, or their parents. As one of the young people passionately stated: “We are able to mobilize and make change on our own.”
  3. Their voices matter. While Generation Z may be more willing than previous generations to be identified as a part of the whole, they want to be seen as individuals worthy of the respect and recognition of nonprofit leaders, adult mentors, and government leaders.
  4. Athletics can provide a powerful pathway to civic engagement. My colleagues at Positive Tracks, and the youth they support, demonstrate first-hand that sport and physical activity deliver hands-on learning, ownership, personal challenge, leadership experience, community mobilization and an inclusive fun to engage peers and talk about “tough issues.”
  5. Family philanthropy can and must take into account the voices of its youngest generation. Even at very early ages, youth can understand complex social issues and work alongside the adults in their family to contribute to solutions, long before they enter the board room.

It seems fitting to end, as we began, with voices of young people, true and unfiltered.

“My generation needs to do something greater than ourselves. We’re here and we’re ready.”

“We are not slacktivists. We are activists. We don’t want adults to tell us how to do it. We’re making it inclusive. We’re making it count.”

“Allowing people who are already passionate to get involved – that’s inclusivity and where young people come in. If we want to move forward, it’s going to take everyone.”

About the Author

Gioia Perugini is Associate Director, Family Office and Philanthropy Services at Hemenway & Barnes. She works with individuals, families, advisors, charitable trusts and foundations to provide a range of philanthropic and client services. Read Gioia’s full biography here.

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Finding Inspiration in February by Nancy B. Gardiner and Gioia Perugini

Although February is the shortest month, it is mighty. We have Valentine’s Day, a bright red reminder to celebrate those whom we love. President’s Day is not far behind, honoring the legacies of honesty and character exemplified by presidents such as Lincoln and Washington. Black History month, during which we celebrate the accomplishments of black leaders throughout history, is also this month. The Olympics, now on the world stage, remind us of the Greek roots of both the Olympics and philanthropy. The first ancient Olympic games can be traced to 776 BCE at Olympia, on the northwestern corner of the Peloponnese in Greece. Although decidedly more modern it its etymology (ca. 1600 AD), the word “philanthropy” derives from the Greek philanthropia, translated roughly as kindliness, humanity, benevolence, and love to mankind. In short, February stands for giving and striving to be the best version of ourselves.

What Inspires You?

Just like the Olympic skier who defies the odds to win gold, so too can a donor drive her giving in this unlikely month. Sometimes it’s your heart that gets the workout when contemplating how to live up to the lofty ideals of “love to man (or woman) kind.” We’ve written before about the connection between head and heart in your giving. Have you paused to consider who inspires you? What are the causes about which you feel strongly? Where is your emotional connection to a particular issue? Many times charitable giving stems from a donor’s desire to give back, to honor the memory of a loved one, or to express gratitude or appreciation for someone special in your life. Some gifts are made to support the expression of love or beauty in the world, to protect a special place or to ensure that others can experience art or dance or music. Sometimes it’s to right a wrong. Many donors also give of their time to causes that inspire them, and deploy their values when making decisions about where to invest their money or where to shop for clothes or food or other daily necessities. Not all giving is tied to charitable causes; many of us hold out our hands to help friends, neighbors and family members out of love and to help them in times of need. We do not need to confine these thoughts to a single month, of course, and most don’t. But there is no reason why we can’t turn thoughts into action early in the year, in February, with the inspiration of the various holidays and events that occur this month.

Why February? Five Reasons to Consider

Whether you are making a gift to charity or to an individual, here are five reasons to consider February giving.

  1. Giving early in the year ensures that the gift will be made. If some reason you are unable to make your gift later in the year, or if the rush at the end of the year gets the better of you, an early start will make certain that your gifts to individuals or to charity have been made.
  2. Gifts made now can grow in the hands of the recipient. So, for example, a gift made in January or February can appreciate in value or can extend the impact of your gift.
  3. In the realm of charitable gifts, gifts made early in the year can be leveraged to attract additional gifts throughout the year.
  4. Gifts made early in the year allow for more gracious and meaningful communication between the donor and the recipient. There is more time to express gratitude for the gift and show the impact of it than there is for a gift are made in a flurry at the end of the year.
  5. Giving now eliminates risk of errors in delivery (of stocks or care packages) that can cause a gift to be late.

Make February the New December

Whether you are inspired by the historic legacies of Lincoln, Washington, and Frederic Douglass, or the feats of strength by Chloe Kim and Shaun White, give February its due and think about your giving now. If all else fails, turn to love and let that be your guide. With its generosity of spirit and good will to all, why not let February be your new December?

About the Authors

Nancy Gardiner is a Partner and Director of Family and Office Services at Hemenway & Barnes LLP. She works with families on legal, tax and investment aspects of governance, succession and all facets of family office creation, operation and management. Read Nancy’s full biography here.

Gioia Perugini is Associate Director, Family Office and Philanthropy Services at Hemenway & Barnes. She works with individuals, families, advisors, charitable trusts and foundations to provide a range of philanthropic and client services. Read Gioia’s full biography here.

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Charitable Giving in the New Year by Gioia Perugini

As the new year dawns, like most of us, I am jumping in to my 2018 to-do list. The New Year is a time of resolutions, evaluating what was successful from last year and focusing on the areas that need improvement in the new year. Taking all of the energy and excitement of year- end giving into the new year brings the opportunity to evaluate what you’d like to do more of in 2018.

Evaluate What Charitable Activities Worked

January is a great time to evaluate what you liked best about your 2017 gifts and plan for your 2018 charitable activities. Were there issues or organizations about which you’d like to learn more? Were there organizations where you think you could make a greater impact by pairing your charitable dollars with volunteering? Attending an organization’s event, or observing their work in progress, when the pressure of year-end is not so intense, could be a good way to deepen your understanding of their work. If you are interested in engaging your entire family in volunteerism, you can start in January by discussing issues you care about, researching where you might volunteer and how those issues or organizations could use your extra efforts. For example, you could organize a sock or coat drive for the winter months, collect toiletries or books to donate later in the year, or buy an extra canned good each week at the store or in advance of a big storm.

Evaluate What Parts of Your Charitable Giving Plan Need Improvement

If you felt that some of your charitable activities from last year could have been more effective, using the early part of the year to evaluate any changes will allow you to develop a stronger 2018 giving plan. Some of the strategies might be the same for the activities which went well. You could visit with an organization to learn more about their needs. Many organizations post wish-lists directly on their web sites, or through their social media channels. You can conduct your own research by reading credible sources on a topic of interest to educate yourself. For example, the Boston Indicators Project publishes research and reports based on more than 15 years of data collection and evaluation on topics ranging from education to housing and immigrant issues.

Plan for the Unexpected in Your Giving Budget

We find that a portion of many giving budgets each year will end up being allocated to emergency needs. Whether it’s a natural disaster like a flood or hurricane, or changes in social or political policies at home or abroad that lead to humanitarian or other emergency needs, planning for the unknown can (and we might argue should) be part of your roadmap for the year. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is a great resource to help donors both respond to immediate needs in the wake of a disaster, and also to plan for the long-term recovery support that many communities need to rebuild. Setting aside a portion of your giving budget each year for emergency needs can allow you to respond more quickly when those needs invariably arise.

Extended the Impact of Your Charitable Activities

You can harness a number of different tools and vehicles to make the impact you seek and effect change in the world. “Charitable” activities can involve more than giving. Many individuals and families consider how and where they shop, use values-based screening for their investments, and/or take advantage of shareholder advocacy or other investor-led strategies. Some donors find that taxable investments can help drive change more quickly and with greater impact. This is especially true for donors with resources who can invest in startup companies with technologies or products that address persistent societal problems. Still others choose to fund political campaigns, support candidates for office, or underwrite lobbying or advocacy efforts to further their social and community goals. Planning simultaneously for these strategies allows you to see them as a whole, rather than disconnected parts.

In the end, giving should be an activity that you find fulfilling and joyful. With the dawn of the new year, so much seems possible that didn’t a few short weeks ago. With a plan in place, you can march forward confidently into the new year. Happy New Year.

About the Author

Gioia Perugini is Associate Director, Family Office and Philanthropy Services at Hemenway & Barnes. She works with individuals, families, advisors, charitable trusts and foundations to provide a range of philanthropic and client services.

Gioia is a frequent speaker, writer and panelist on issues relevant to philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. She also serves on a number of nonprofit boards.

Read Gioia’s full biography here.

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