Hosted by Daniel Kaufman (November 2011)
Picture a philanthropist. Go ahead—close your eyes and really try to get an image in your mind. If you’re like most, you are probably picturing an older, very wealthy man. What do you see? Andrew Carnegie? Bill Gates? The Monopoly guy? Possibly Andrew Carnegie..
Why are these the images that come to mind? Why don’t we think about the 28-year-old second grade teacher who invests in Donors Choose projects every month?
The traditional arc of giving in the West, or at least the story I believe we tell ourselves, is that we will go to school, get a job, save for our family, mortgage and retirement, and give back when we are older and financially secure. We expect sudden generosity from people even if they haven’t been in the habit of giving.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality. The annual Giving USA study shows that our generosity is stuck at about 2% of GDP, and as those who work in strategic giving will tell you, we can’t seem to get the general donor population to utilize the strategic giving tools on the market.
This isn’t particularly surprising. It is really hard to teach an old dog new tricks.
This begs the questions: Why not try to alter the traditional arc of giving by focusing our attention on a generation that has yet to develop its giving habits? Why not invest in the long-term health of the social sector by trying to develop positive, generous, strategic giving behavior from the outset?
Over the last 10-20 years, hundreds of incredible K-12 philanthropic education programs have emerged to instill the values of giving in children. Sadly, these types of programs all but disappear for young people once they enter the workforce. Thus, at the very time the next generation starts earning an income, we as a sector are leaving them to their own devices.
The(OPF) was created to fill this gap. Through our network of online giving circles and programs, we are empowering Millennials+ to become lifelong, generous and thoughtful philanthropists. OPF asks participants to commit to give away at least 1% of their annual income, with the expectation that as they are exposed to incredible nonprofits and a community that values generosity, they will increase their giving over time. We believe that by engaging Millennials+ in philanthropy from the outset in an accessible, meaningful, peer-supported way, we can create the most generous and thoughtful generation to date.
Questions for discussion:
Join Daniel Kaufman, co-founder of the , in the conversation.