By Danielle Oristian York, 21/64
Philanthropy is a sector of society that has long been drenched in tradition and social obligation; leave the risk-taking and creativity to the capitalist masses. Today, however, the conventional definitions of business versus philanthropy have been turned upside down by a new cohort of next generation donors who are actively seeking to blur the line between these two sectors. Members of Generation X and Generation Y (or the Millennials) are under 40 and full of innovative ideas about how the worlds of business and philanthropy can work together to create an even greater good.
An entirely new class of business leaders has developed out of the school of thought that being good for humanity is not only good business, but also good for business. Social entrepreneurs are defined by Businessweek as “enterprising individuals who apply business practices to solving societal problems.” Huge names in business such as Tom’s Shoes and Ethos Water are proving that profit and charity are not ideological enemies but harmonious cousins.
Evolving Way of Life
These social entrepreneurs aren’t outliers for their generation. The next generation as a whole seems to have embraced philanthropcapitalism as more than an ideal to strive for, but as a way of life.
For Traditionalists and Baby Boomers, careers were pursued in order to sustain a comfortable livelihood, with the hopes that there would be enough left over to contribute to society. Today much of the next generation seeks to follow a path where giving back and earning one’s living are pursued in tandem, not compartmentalized into completely different sections of one’s life.
Illustrating this point, a Pew Research Center study of Millennials showed that 22% of young people believe that “having a job or career that benefits society” is one of the most important things in life, compared to a mere 14% of older respondents who count that same belief on their list of life goals.
As the next generation begins to assume leadership roles in foundations and other giving agencies, philanthropcapitalism will be pushed even farther into the limelight. As leaders in philanthropy, how can you harness this generation’s enthusiasm and penchant for doing good in your work?
Danielle Oristian York is a Director at 21/64, a non-profit consulting division of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies specializing in next generation and multi-generational strategic consulting for families. She speaks and consults with families and their advisors on multigenerational engagement and empowering the next generation using 21/64 methods and tools. Danielle also facilitates trainings on 21/64’s approach to these powerful subjects.