By Rachel Gil

There are many studies on the benefits of giving back. It’s not only the recipient who gains from the gift, but also the giver. These studies show that donors can experience everything from increased happiness to lower blood pressure. So, what might prevent a next-generation person from engaging in philanthropy?

When I first begin working with a family, I like to get to know what is important to each individual by asking a series of questions related to family, wealth, and philanthropy. The most common response I hear from young adults in their 20s and 30s regarding philanthropy is something like this: “Giving to charity is something I’d like to think about in the future, when I have more of my own money to give away.” Many want to give back but don’t feel as though they currently have enough personal financial resources to make an impact. They believe that mom and dad’s money should go toward mom and dad’s charities of choice. Your parents’ favorite nonprofits might be your favorites, too, or they might not be — and that’s OK. Like finding a career path, giving back should be personal and meaningful to you. If you don’t feel as though you can afford to make monetary donations, there are other equally valuable resources you can consider giving:  time, talent, and ties.

  1. Time: When they dig into our experiences with philanthropy, many young adults recall giving their time in some capacity — whether helping out at a food bank, volunteering at a pet shelter, or wrapping presents for a holiday gift drive. We encourage young adults to consider this method of philanthropy, as many organizations benefit greatly from volunteers. There are a number of resources you can use to match with organizations based on your interests or location, such as Volunteermatch.org and Idealist.org.
  2. Talent: Another way to give is to donate a specialized skill to an organization. For example, an organization might need help setting up accounting software and preparing a budget. Rather than pay a professional thousands of dollars to complete this project, a volunteer with an accounting and finance background can assist. Catchafire.org is an example of a great resource to match volunteers to projects based on specialized skills, ranging from business strategy and fundraising to social media and web design.
  3. Ties: Your personal and professional networks can be invaluable in philanthropy. Connecting people with the right skills and background to the right organizations may move the needle in previously unimaginable ways.

However you choose to give, let your values guide you in selecting the right organizations to support. Giving of your time, talent, and ties isn’t always easy. There will always be obstacles and competing priorities in your life. But if you’re making an impact in a way that is meaningful to you and aligned with your values, your passion and purpose will propel you forward.

Questions to spur action

What method of giving might work for you in your current situation? How do you plan to help someone else this month? How do your philanthropic interests differ from your families? What are some causes that may overlap?

The Cresset Family Governance and Education team can help you think through these questions and more. Contact us below.