Giving. Everyone agrees it’s a good thing. In the world of philanthropy, giving is certainly not a novel concept, but with the emergence of new technology and a more enriched global perspective, donating to causes has taken on new meaning.

A generation ago, giving was somewhat responsive. Most people donated to larger organizations such as the United Way, Red Cross, or the Salvation Army. Society did not have the tools or the access to causes or charities we have today—thank you internet! As a result, giving felt very transactional. Recently, however, digital media and philanthropy came together, and the result was a drastic change in the way millennials give.

So, with that said, it begs the question, how are millennials giving, and more importantly, how are our donations making a greater impact?

For better or worse, we are married to our technology. More than owning the latest shiny object, we gravitate towards new technology because it’s a means to a greater end. Consumer technology hasn’t only changed the way we communicate or consume information, but it has given us greater capabilities to influence the world. We expect technologically capable approaches to support our behaviors and needs, and this holds true for giving.

Technology makes donating to causes convenient

80 million millennials are reshaping charity and online giving, and mobile and social are among the most effective ways millennials are giving. For example, Facebook recently raised over $10 million for Nepal relief in under two days.  Through social media, mobile, and online platforms, we can have instantaneous access to the millions of charities that are doing good in the world.

Whether you are passionate about your local neighborhood, protecting an endangered animal in a far off land, or trying to solve world hunger, new technology is able to connect you to your cause in ways that we have not experienced in the past.

Millennial Magazine - microsoft donating to causes

The term strategic philanthropist is the result of these new giving trends and capabilities. For the first time, we are seeing truly customized giving portfolios, and it’s impacting the way we want to give, and, in turn, more aid is being dispersed to those who need it most.

Millennials are also more in tune with corporate social responsibility, and workplace-giving ranks highly among the ways we like to engage with our causes. Millennials are taking advantage of workplace-giving programs because they are easy to use, manage, and track.

According to a survey done by The Millennial Impact, 45 percent of millennials aged 25-30 and 57 percent over 30 participate in employee-giving programs. Twenty-eight percent give $100-$500 annually; 22 percent give over $500; and only 12% give nothing.

Millennials want to see the results of their donations

Unlike previous generations, millennial employees seek greater knowledge of the specific impact of their donations to the point that we are willing to bet our careers on it. 63 percent of female employees and 45 percent of male employees said their company’s philanthropy programs influenced them to accept a job—in fact, corporate philanthropy ranks as one of the top three factors in deciding where they apply for a job.

Millennial Magazine - Millennials-reshaping-charity

A marrying of the two—smart platforms and workplace giving programs—is proving to be the often most effective way to engage donors and effect real change.

“I feel so much more informed about the causes I’m supporting,” said Karyn Ritter, Program Manager at Delphix about Bright Funds, her workplace-giving program of choice. “I get background information on charities; I can see which groups my friends support; I can easily find other groups who support causes I’m passionate about; and it tells me how my money was used. New technology has really brought me closer to the issues I care about.”

Giving trends have and will continue to evolve as technology and social awareness strengthen and improve. But, as we move forward, our generation will be known as the ones that turned giving into an action as opposed to a reaction.

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Ty Walrod


San Francisco, CA

Ty is the co-founder and CEO of Bright Funds, the company that enables employee-empowered workplace giving. Prior to Bright Funds, Ty co-founded and built OutServe into a national organization supporting LGBT equality in the US military. He previously worked for Deloitte, with the partnership's venture capital, private equity and technology clients, followed by his work as the lead business analyst for Coverity. Ty is also the co-founder and a board member of Startup and Tech Mixer, a bay area professional networking organization, and a board member of Sustainable Silicon Valley, an organization dedicated to a healthy environment, a vibrant economy, and a socially equitable Silicon Valley community. In his spare time, Ty is an avid runner and mountaineer.

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