Next Gen Donors Take the Stage in Giving

Over the next two to three decades, an estimated $59 trillion in wealth will shift across generations in the United States. According to Sharna Goldseker, a leading expert on multigenerational engagement and family philanthropy, this unprecedented transfer of wealth means the next generation of givers could have “the most significant impact on philanthropy in history.”

Goldeseker was the featured speaker at “The Impact Revolution: How Next Gen Donors are Taking the Stage in Giving,” an event hosted by The Minneapolis Foundation’s Family Philanthropy Resource Center and sponsored by the law firm of Gray Plant Mooty and Meristem Family Wealth.

As executive director of 21/64, a nonprofit that serves philanthropic and family enterprises, Goldseker is helping transform how families work together, across multiple generations, to define their values, collaborate, and manage their philanthropic endeavors.

Robyn Schein, who leads the Foundation’s Family Philanthropy Resource Center, told the crowd of more than 125 guests gathered at the Guthire Theater in Minneapolis, that “Sharna is one of the nation’s next gen thought leaders and one of my trusted resources,” said

In her recent book, “Generation Impact: How Next Gen Donors Are Revolutionizing Giving,” Goldseker and her co-author Michael Moody identify three major differences in how the next generation of philanthropists approach giving.

At the top of the list is impact. “They want to see measurable difference,” Goldseker said. She points to Daniel Lurie’s Tipping Point Community, which has created a new model for fighting poverty in the Bay Area. The second difference is the value they place on innovation. “[They’re] willing to take risks,” she said, pointing to their willingness to fund social benefit businesses and join crowd sourcing efforts.

Finally, Goldseker said the next generation is “all in” and more connected than before. They want to be involved early and “bring their skills to bear in big ways,” she said. “And to the adage ‘time, talent and treasure,’ this next gen is adding ‘ties.’ They are highly networked. This generation wants to be part of a team.”

Following her remarks, a panel of three next gen philanthropists—Karen Anthony Gabler, Andrew Dayton, and Jon Maruk—joined Goldseker for an informal discussion about their varied giving experiences. All three agreed that demonstrated impact is indeed a top priority.

“You have to measure impact to be responsible in allocating resources,” Dayton said. “Every industry is being upended by tools and technology in measuring impact. Philanthropy is just a little slower to the table.”

Goldseker shared how the formation of her own family’s foundation encouraged her to explore the issues of multi-generational giving more deeply. Her research reinforced the importance of modeling in families, with 89% of the next gen reporting that they learned their giving values from their parents.

“I want to help this next generation learn how to not be paralyzed by predecessors, privilege or possibilities,” Goldseker said. “It’s not about passing the baton; it’s about generations playing on the same team. I encourage open, honest conversations about giving. It’s a blessing to do this work as a family.”