Trends in Giving for Young Professionals

Stephanie Brun de Pontet
Stephanie Brun de Pontet

The ‘personal finance’ columnist at US News & World Report, Kimberly Palmer recently wrote a book titled: “Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back” (Ten Speed Press).  In this book she cites an impressive statistic from the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University that on average, people under 40 donate about $1,200 a year.  While that is a healthy amount for the average person, ms. Palmer indicates that young adults are giving back differently.  In particular, she point out that a lot of young people today like to start their own charities.  This is in keeping with my recent post, that there is a trend towards wanting to be more hands-on and contribute time as well as money.   Families with strong entrepreneurial genes may enjoy the challenge that comes with setting up a charity for a cause in which a number of them share a passion.

If you are looking for something a little less labor-intensive, ms. Palmer also speaks about ‘Giving Circles’ that pool the funds of a group of friends who want to take the time to research charities and ensure their donations are being well used.  These are not too dissimilar to the investing clubs that were popular in the 1980s and 1990s (where people got together to research companies in which they wanted to invest in to make a profit).  This strikes me as a great model that families could emulate for next generation groups who are eager to give back in their communities, and also want to practice decision-making skills and learn how to differentiate between different uses of money (relevant when evaluating the merits of a for-profit or non-profit investment choice).  If your family is not ready to start their own circle, interested family members can find a giving circle ( is the website where these can be found) that already exists in their area, and join themselves to learn and hopefully bring the model back to the family for consideration.


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