'Tis the season of giving. Whether we are talking about gift giving or charitable giving, December is the time of year when a lot of the action takes place. Naturally, there is the tick tock of the calendar year coming to an end and the desire to reduce taxable income or a taxable estate for high-net worth folks. But, beyond the logistics of taxes, I have been thinking a little about what it means to be a benefactor. (Definition: a benefactor is someone who gives money or help to an organization, society, or person.)
We recently hosted the Michigan Philharmonic Board of Directors at the OnTrack Wealth Management office. Besides having been to a handful of their wonderful concerts, I know this group through a co-worker of my wife. As I was serving up beverages to members of the board, I listened to them talk about the need to build the next generation of volunteers, musicians, and yes benefactors. I sensed a mood of concern in the room. Concern that the next generation of people needed for the sustainability of the Michigan Philharmonic are not (yet) engaged in this great organization. One of the members said those who have given so much in the past will not be around forever and he wondered who will replace them in the future…
Whether you look at the organizations in your local community or the largest publicly traded companies in the S&P 500, one thing is certain: change is constant. In the S&P 500 for instance, only 7 of the top 25 companies from 2001 were still in the top 25 in 2021.
So, here is the big question: how are benefactors going to change over the next 20 years? Perhaps some are fearful that benefactors will no longer exist. I refute that. Americans are charitable. If there is one trend that increased in a good way around the pandemic, it was charitable giving. Volunteerism is strong too, 42% of Americans participate.
So, how do organizations (and businesses for that matter) attract the next generation of benefactors and talent? Younger generations such as Millennials and Gen Z want engagement. They want to be hands-on with their work and charities. According to one consultant group, organizations should consider: A) making giving more accessible (think QR codes and mobile friendly sites); B) create a junior board for younger people to operate and eventually they may become key trustees; and C) foster authentic connections that bring people together in communities where they can interact, socialize, and collaborate.
In this season of hope and giving, I am confident the next generations of benefactors are out there. And trust me, good organizations like the Michigan Philharmonic are ready and willing to embrace them.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's from OnTrack Wealth Management!!!