Next Gen Philanthropy : The Hive

In Generation Impact, the book on next gen donors by Sharna Goldseker and Michael Moody, the emphasis is on the high net worth donors who will revolutionize our world through their financial contributions. These donors are grandchildren inheriting wealth, like Justin Rockefeller, as well as those creating new wealth, like Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg. But my take, based on my work and experience, is that this revolution is going to go much deeper and further than can be controlled by the elite givers.

The majority of Next Generation philanthropists aren’t coming to the table with traditional financial resources, yet they are creating change and impacting our world with their giving. They are leading nonprofits, starting giving circles, and volunteering at their kid’s school. They are starting businesses focused on inclusivity and stakeholder value. They are managing care for their aging parents and negotiating simplified living. When I think of Next Gen philanthropy, I think of all the young people coming up behind us, who are using all the resources they have to address equity and justice. These philanthropists are revolutionizing philanthropy by questioning systems.

We are witnessing an emergence of a different way of doing things – new ways of doing business, new ways of seeing the world, new ways of relating to each other. This emergence, globally and across sectors, is of a more feminine power and leadership; and it is reawakening the collective.

Feminist philanthropy is an intuitive dance of perceiving and thinking with others. It’s like a hive. In this philanthropy, each person holds a piece of the puzzle, not any one person knows everything. It uses privilege to support the voices least heard, most harmed with the most at stake. It supports individuals in determining their own lives while honoring the collective. It knows that the answers are going to lie outside of the mainstream – they’re going to come in from the edges. And how we’re set up to capture that information is going to redefine the philanthropic industry.

The old model was to woo the queen bee – the future is wooing the hive. Next gen philanthropy is about collective giving, redistributing power and highlighting voices that have gone unheard. It’s about changing the system.

A feminist philanthropist is concerned with how they’re giving – what their intent and impact is. They make it personal – and then they make the personal political. They are mindful of what it’s going to take to create change, and they’re not interested in participating in business as usual. While these systems might change from some creatively placed levers, ultimately, we need to rethink how things are supposed to work and why they’ve been working the way they have for so long. In all of my recent conversations it’s become clear that the system is not broken; it’s working exactly as it was meant to. And if this is true, we need new systems in order to forge a future that works for all of us, and honors our planet.

The future of philanthropy, the work of loving humanity, is going to look a lot different than it does today. All things are meant to evolve and change if they are meant to persist. Creatively rethinking how we work, how we parent, how we consume all lead to the same place: how do we give and take? How do we participate in the intuitive dance of perceiving and thinking with others, in order to cultivate a world that works for all of us?

  • We create community and act in solidarity.
  • We examine our privilege and redistribute power.
  • We elevate the voices of those most harmed, and let them lead.
  • We participate in iterative design thinking and question the systems that aren’t working for everyone.

The future of philanthropy is feminist. These next generations of philanthropists are going to transform the way we love humanity and revolutionize how we give and receive.

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