The next generation of philanthropists is bringing their own spin to giving
In the past, the profile of a philanthropist has tended to look rather homogenous. Today, the makeup of philanthropy is much more varied and, increasingly, younger. Though the age range of these donors can span generations—and generational labels, including Gen-X, millennial, and Gen-Z—they share important commonalities. According to researchers, these “next generation” philanthropists give with the aim to see measurable results and, importantly, to more closely engage in the process of achieving those outcomes than many donors before them.
That is certainly true of young philanthropists in the capital area, according to Ravindar Singh, Chair of the Give Committee for MetroEdge, the young professional association of the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
“When young people get involved in giving, it needs to mean something to us,” Singh said. “We need to connect to the mission. We need to touch it. We need to engage with it, so we can support it best.”
Here are some ways philanthropy-minded young people in the Sacramento region are doing just that.
Each year, a dozen high schoolers direct thousands of Foundation dollars to diverse, youth-led projects at nonprofits and schools throughout the Sacramento region, supporting everything from care packages for LGBTQ+ homeless youth to environmental education for children who have limited opportunities to explore wild places.
These young philanthropists are members of the Grants Advisory Board for Youth (GABY), the Foundation’s long-standing program to educate area youth about philanthropy and service learning.
Since 2003, GABY has granted $500,000 to more than 300 youth-led projects.
“One thing that really stood out to me as a GABY member was seeing so many young people who have so much passion to help their community and change it for the better,” said Solana Torres, who served on GABY last year, helping award grants to 16 youth-led community projects that impacted nearly 20,000 people in the region. “It really changed the way I see my peers and the way I see myself.”
As Chair of the MetroEdge Give Committee, Ravindar Singh is responsible for cultivating the philanthropic IQ of hundreds of the capital area’s young professionals. At the association’s regular networking events, he and his Committee’s members encourage “Edgers” to reflect on what motivates their giving. They evangelize the diverse ways Edgers can give. And they highlight the rewards of giving—as well as the responsibilities.
“Sacramento’s next leaders need to be well-equipped to make our community successful, so we always aim to educate and inspire about giving back in ways that build impactful partnerships,” he says.
As much as possible, he encourages MetroEdge members to give financial contributions in addition to their time and talents. “So many of our peers are dedicated, life-long volunteers for organizations they love, but we can’t forget that nonprofits need funding, too. That is so critical.”
To that end, in coordination with the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Inspire Giving program (which is supported by a fund at the Foundation), the Give Committee awards $10,000 in unrestricted funding to one local nonprofit each year, entirely stewarded by the generosity of MetroEdge members.
This year’s recipient was Department of Sound, a fledgling organization that brings digital music education to youth in local underserved communities.
Like generous people before them, young philanthropists will continue to give through effective vehicles like Donor Advised Funds at community foundations; unlike previous generations, they enjoy a variety of innovative opportunities to encounter and support nonprofits more informally, too. Big Day of Giving is one such opportunity, which was launched in 2013 with the aim of making philanthropy more accessible to all in our community.
Social Venture Partners (SVP) Sacramento’s Fast Pitch program is another. This four-month mentoring program pairs nonprofit professionals from throughout the capital region with area leaders and culminates in a venture capital-like pitch competition—a high-energy, fast-moving, quick-fire presentation event. At the competition, the nonprofit participants get three minutes to share their work and their impact with the judges and the packed audience at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
In the last five years, the program has trained 85 nonprofits, awarded $113,000 to winning organizations from a fund housed at the Foundation, and raised $110,000 in live donations at the Fast Pitch event. And that doesn’t account for the in-kind services and follow-on funding that organizations have seen as a result of their participation, according to Chair of the Fast Pitch Committee, Elfrena Foord.
By focusing on the root causes of local challenges, seeking solutions with long-term results, and supporting the organizations that tend to the vital needs of the capital area, we help create the conditions for meaningful transformation in the Sacramento region.