In news that may not be particularly surprising, inequality for the millennial generation is on track to be the highest-recorded. It’s an issue that concerns a lot of us, but many young people don’t have the power to make institutional changes. However, that doesn’t mean this generation is powerless to make change. Change really can start at the individual level, no matter what cause you’re dedicated to. Millennials are not a generation that sits around and laments the way things are; we’ve shown ourselves to be politically active.
What are wealthy millennials doing?
Some millennials who already have inherited wealth want to give back to causes they support. An Atlantic article tracking this phenomenon notes that $30 trillion in inheritance money is set to be doled out over the next four decades or so, and with that money comes millennials who are eager to put it to causes they support. Interestingly, millennial philanthropy is happening across the political spectrum, as children of conservative donors pick up the mantle and left-leaning wealthy millennials support causes they’re passionate about.
Wealthy donors are not a new concept, but for a generation that is big on ethical responsibility, it’s perhaps unsurprising that so many are willing to give money to causes they believe in. Even some members of the so-called “1 percent” have aligned themselves with the rest of country, joining organizations such as Patriotic Millionaires, a group of wealthy individuals who support higher taxes on the wealthy and a higher minimum wage. When millennials come into the whole of their inheritance money, it may be likely that we’ll see more of them join organizations like this.
What are the rest of us doing?
Yes, some of these causes are going to be overtly political, and many of us are far from wealthy, but what’s notable is the philosophy itself behind millennial philanthropy at all levels. A piece in Forbes describes millennials as “a generation characterized by integrating the causes they care about” into how they spend money, something that isn’t noted of previous generations. This article proceeds to describe a site that offers prepaid gift cards that give a portion to charitable causes of the buyer’s choice, including an interview with the excited founder. Millennials will spend extra to support things they care about, he says.
This is true, and it isn’t just gift cards and fundraising platforms that millennials give their extra money to. The companies themselves that millennials support are ones that align with their values. This is another trait common to this generation: millennials will spend their money at companies they trust, companies who do good in the eyes of millennial consumers, even if they’re paying more. A whopping 87 percent of surveyed millennials say they’d spend their money at a company that supports an issue they also feel passionate about.
As a generation, we have a lot of work to do to change the world, but we’re equipped to do it, bit by bit. There’s been a sea change in consumption habits that’s led companies to be more charitable to attract millennial spenders, and millennials are willing at all levels of wealth to directly support certain causes. Wealthy millennials may even work on closing income inequality or end up pumping large sums of money into projects such as environmental conservation or social justice reforms. What exactly will happen remains to be seen, but regardless, this generation is up to the challenge to shake things up through millennial philanthropy.
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