Conference Session Spotlight: Next Gen Philanthropists

Conference Session Spotlight: Next Gen Philanthropists


Gen X and Millennial philanthropists are coming into their own, and the upcoming annual conference will offer a session on Wednesday, Oct. 4 led by two experts who will offer insights into how to create strategies to connect with and better understand this up-and-coming generation.

The session will be led by Michael Moody, Ph.D. and Lauren Domino, who has implemented Next Gen donor strategies at Seattle Foundation. Moody is the Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

Next Gen refers to donors in their 20s, 30s and early 40s who are both “earners” and “inheritors” of wealth. Moody has been researching this group and recently published a book, Generation Impact: How Next Gen Donors are Revolutionizing Giving, with his writing partner, Sharna Goldseeker. Their writing has been featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Moody has been interviewed in the New York Times, among other prominent publications, regarding the rise of Next Gen donors. Moody’s passion for philanthropy spans a 20-year career, and he applyies his unique expertise to the field.

“I’ve always been very committed to philanthropy as an essential part of democracy and building a good society,” he said. “I’m particularly interested in this part of the field—the Next Gen donors’ concentration of wealth, and the transfer of wealth that is happening. They will be incredibly powerful and influential, and the field really doesn’t know much about them.”

Moody said the conference session will include a discussion of the latest research and preview what his book, Generation Impact, connecting the findings to Domino’s work at the foundation. (There may be a Next Gen donor joining as well, but those details are still being worked out.)

The session will include an interactive exercise where participants will be asked to profile a typical Next Gen donor involved in their foundation or families. Each table will discuss what they think the Next Gen donors care about and how they anticipate he or she will give. The profile may shed light on the preconceptions or misconceptions about these donors. Moody and Domino will then lead a discussion on tips on how to engage Next Gen donors and help inspire them to become the philanthropists they want to be, Moody said.

“Both Gen X and Millennials want their giving to be very hands-on,” he said. “The idea that they give through phone or texting or whatever, it’s not true. It’s about meeting face to face at a site visit, and it’s about more than giving money—they want to give time and money.”

One of the key takeaways Moody said he hopes #PNW17 attendees will glean from the session is that the old model of succession in family foundations won’t work.

“It’s not a relay race where you pass baton; to Next Gen family members, it’s a multigenerational team sport,” he explained. “They have a lot of energy and bring things of value to the team just like older members do. It’s time to get rid of the kid’s table and bring them in right away and in meaningful ways.”