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Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen

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Generation Give, Part 2

Posted: 11/18/11 10:24 AM ET

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Following is Part 2 of a special Giving 2.0 blog series on raising giving children (read Part 1 here). My hope is that the ideas, resources, knowledge and tools presented here and on my website (www.giving2.com) will inspire and educate your family's philanthropic journey. These posts aim to empower you to share your giving values with your children by providing practical and actionable ways to create positive change together.

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In an op-ed in last weekend's New York Times, William Deresiewicz talked about "Generation Sell"--a youth culture in which everyone treats themselves like small businesses that need managing and promoting. I believe there's another side to today's youth culture that could be called "Generation Give."

Over the course of a decade teaching at Stanford Graduate School of Business and University, I've seen a significant shift in how this new generation thinks about our world and makes life decisions. For the individuals in this generation, the focus is not selling--it's giving.

This new generation, the Millennials (widely defined as individuals born sometime between the mid-to-late seventies and early 2000s), embraces giving as part of living. Here's how:

  • As the Facebook generation, these young adults define themselves--using social networks--by the people, issues, and organizations that they care about and support.
  • Fundraising campaigns for birthdays and weddings are increasingly becoming the norm. Along with his fiancé, one of my former undergraduate students, now a PhD candidate at Berkeley, has decided to not accept wedding gifts, but rather to have friends and family give to a few organizations about which the bride and groom feel passionate.
  • Career decisions increasingly have a social change component to them. For the Millennials, job decisions are often swayed by whether or not a company engages in employee volunteering, offers gift matching, or strives to achieve social benefit through either corporate philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, or through its core products.
  • For the Millennials, work-life balance includes volunteer work, and at an increasing rate. In 2010, 3.1 million college students (more than one in four) volunteered 312 million hours to communities across the country.
  • Today's students--particularly at business schools--are increasingly demanding courses in social entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and nonprofit management.

At business schools, student demands for programs on social entrepreneurship and innovation reflect these new values. And academia is shaping courses to meet this demand. At Oxford University's Said School of Business, for example, the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship (created in 2003 by Jeff Skoll and the Skoll Foundation) offers students an MBA program with a focus on social entrepreneurship. Other universities, (both at the undergraduate and business school levels) teach social entrepreneurship, run contests for student social entrepreneurs, and design programs that make social entrepreneurship not just a study topic, but also a life-long pursuit.

At Stanford, the d.school (School of Design) has launched several initiatives in which students work with professors and mentors to design innovative products that are affordable by the poor. Through its "Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability" program, students (a few of whom have taken my undergraduate "Philanthropy and Social Innovation" course) work directly with indigenous populations to create low-cost, life-changing, life-saving devices such as electric lighting, water pumps, and incubators. These products address social challenges faced by indigenous populations and create market-based solutions that often cost less than $30. Products include the high-quality, solar-rechargeable LED d.light lamp and the Tripod Pump, a human-powered irrigation pump.

Ashoka University, (created in 2005) is another powerful example of how universities are creating programs to meet the demands of students for course content on social change. Ashoka University-part of Ashoka, the nonprofit founded by Bill Drayton that supports global social entrepreneurs--provides college students with the mentoring, resources, peer groups, and community they need to develop their own social innovation models, paving the way for a new generation of social entrepreneurs to create positive change. (As a donor, you can also volunteer as a mentor or give financially to support a new social entrepreneur or Ashoka University program at your alma mater.)

Many of the programs available today (including the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, which I founded and now chair) did not exist five or ten years ago, perhaps because students did not see themselves as capable of being social entrepreneurs at such a young age. This has all changed--a new generation has re-defined what is possible. With colleges developing what Bill Drayton calls "changemakers," it's thrilling to imagine the countless ways these young people will transform our world in the years to come.

Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen is the author of Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World (Wiley/Jossey-Bass, November 2011). For a host of resources to make your giving matter more, please visit www.giving2.com.

 
 
 

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