Engaging the Next Generation

Engaging the Next Generation

By Cristina Lopez

On May 3, 2012, a group of us explored the character traits of four different generations and how each interacts with the workplace - Matures (born before 1946), Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation Xers (born 1965-1979), and Millennials (born 1980-2000).

From our own experience, we validated that generations do have shared formative experiences that shape their perspectives and values. Understanding each generation can help engage more family members in a shared philanthropic agenda.

I had the great pleasure of working with Maryland Philanthropy Network on the Next Generation Project this winter. Working closely with Betsy and Adam, I served as overall project manager. It was a wonderful way to connect my experience with Maryland Philanthropy Network as member of a local family foundation and my work as a social enterprise consultant.

Maryland Philanthropy Network undertook the Next Generation Project to better understand members' needs related to engaging successive generations of family members in their philanthropy and the implications of those needs on Maryland Philanthropy Network's services. We heard many different approaches to engaging the next generation. It was clear that this is a topic that is on the top of many members' minds and that all are striving to do this thoughtfully.

Maryland Philanthropy Network also wanted to look inside itself to ensure that the staff understands the next generation's needs and expectations for Maryland Philanthropy Network, as Maryland Philanthropy Network wishes to stay relevant as generational transitions occur.

I was excited to speak with family foundation members in my age cohortabout their philanthropy and experience with Maryland Philanthropy Network. In my interviews with more than a dozen family foundation members ages 25-45, I heard several recurring themes:

  • I have skills, please put them to use
  • I am involved in volunteer activity and support my own causes
  • If I am going to participate in an activity, I need to be involved in planning from the start
  • I am different and my family is unique, so we need customized advice
  • The future of the family's philanthropy is uncertain; I do not know if there is a foundation succession or transition plan

During the coming months, Maryland Philanthropy Network will be integrating the findings from the Next Generation Project into its services and everyday work.

To learn more about Maryland Philanthropy Network's work with family foundations and what to do as a family to work with multiple generations contact adonaldson@marylandphilanthropy.org.


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