Our Top Ten Develop Posts of 2017

Posted Dec 19, 2017
    Sharna Goldseker
Sharna Goldseker
Wiley Author
 Michael Moody
Michael Moody
Wiley Author

Meet the next generation of big donors—the Gen X and Millennial philanthropists who will be the most significant donors ever and will shape our world in profound ways.  As these “next gen donors” step into their philanthropic roles, they not only have unprecedented financial resources, but also big ideas for how to wield their financial power. They want to disrupt the traditional world of charitable giving and they want to do so now, not after they retire to a life of philanthropic leisure.


531321011.jpgLike previous generations of major donors, Gen Xers and Millennials feel a responsibility to give and they want their giving to make a difference on a diverse array of causes. Unlike previous generations, they prioritize impact above all else, and they are willing to revolutionize philanthropy to get better results.


This drive for impact means next gen donors feel they have no choice but to make changes to philanthropic strategy and to take risks that could lead to new results. As one put it, “We need a different MO [modus operandi] here. This one isn’t working.” Next gen donors from philanthropic families are ready to work alongside their parents and grandparents on a multigenerational team, but they, and first-generation donors, will go it alone if they have to. They will even be “unreasonable”—to use Scott Belsky’s word—if having more impact requires that.


Their vision, though, is to be both revolutionary and respectful. They want revolution not for revolution’s sake but for impact’s sake. Next gen donors acknowledge what they have learned from previous generations and want to be good stewards of legacy. They see their philanthropic innovations as honoring what donors in the past have accomplished by taking giving to the next level. They credit parents and grandparents with teaching them positive values around giving and want to instill and inhabit those values seamlessly across all parts of their lives. In fact, this search to find the right balance of the past and future, of respect and revolution, is the central identity challenge facing Generation Impact.


We know next gen donors themselves are eager to launch the revolution now. To us, this means there are big transformations on the immediate horizon, and the pace of change will steadily increase in the next few years, with some areas shifting faster than others.


In the short term, we expect to see many donors launch trial experiments to test out new innovations—like more next gen giving circles and funding collaboratives, new social responsibility screens introduced for foundation endowments, and use of sector-blending giving vehicles by individual donors to maximize their options. Other changes will take much longer, like nonprofits retooling their donor engagement strategies to bring donors more meaningfully into their everyday work and families sharing full decision-making power across generations. But even these complex and long-term changes are starting to happen, as the next gen donor stories in this book have illustrated. Hannah Quimby is starting to fundamentally change funder-grantee relationships in her home state of Maine. Katherine Lorenz has guided her family foundation to become a working multigenerational team.


The pacing of the revolution is one area where we noted a difference between first-generation earners and next generation inheritors. While both groups want to revolutionize philanthropy in similar strategic ways—to be more innovative and hands-on, to give and learn more with peers—they differ in their capacity to implement those changes right away. Earners can implement their ideal philanthropic strategy more rapidly, while inheritors usually face the added complication of working through established family structures. Earners can blaze their own trails, while inheritors often have to protect the trails as well as forge ahead.


All next gen donors, however, face the challenge of actually implementing their revolutionary visions, which will not be easy in a field full of large institutions, diverse stakeholders, and entrenched practices. There is no small amount of trepidation among nonprofits, especially about rapid changes that might negatively affect the people they serve or the crucial social outcomes their mission aspires to achieve. This means the Impact Revolution could take longer than next gen donors would like, which could in turn leave them frustrated. But if their focus is impact and they’re committed to being engaged, we expect they will stick around to see their changes take full effect.


Learn more about more about Generation Impact.


Image Credit: Joakim Leroy/Getty Images


    Allan Cohen
Allan Cohen
Business Author
David Bradford
David Bradford
Business Author

people-coffee-tea-meeting.jpgIncreasingly, gaining sufficient power and influence is a challenge for everyone who works. We need the knowledge, skills, permission, connections or resources from individuals or groups in order to complete work assigned to us or that we believe really important. Yet it is inevitable that many of those whose help we need do not have to cooperate – or even respond.


That leads to many forms of often ineffective attempts to influence: polite requests, the same request in a louder voice, false friendliness, bluffing or bullying, trying to enlist higher-ups, name-calling (overt or covert) or giving up in desperation.


But it turns out that there is a universal underlying process to all influence that you and everyone else knows, but somehow forgets or can’t execute when the other party refuses, doesn’t know you, has a bad relationship with you or your group, or has conflicting objectives.


All influence is based on reciprocity and exchange. People allow themselves to be influenced because they believe that in some way, in some reasonable length of time, they will receive something of roughly equal value back for what is being asked. It is as simple – and complex – as that. Complex because:


  • in execution the prior relationship and the one expressed during the transaction matters
  • people often value different things (we call them currencies as a metaphor due to the exchange going on) and it can be hard to assess how much what each side offers and values is worth
  • although everyone values several different currencies there may be no compatibility between what the two parties care about
  • the process of exchange can be implicit or explicit depending on the relationship and the culture of the organization in which people are functioning.


Because so much of everyday influence is automatic, when people get stuck they often resort to self-defeating irritation and stereotyping of the other person or group, which dramatically decreases the possibility of influencing them. But stopping to figure out what the other party really cares about and how to give them some of that in return for what you want, can dramatically increase your influence.


Here is an actual (slightly disguised) example. Vishwas was asked to lead a product development task force from his West Coast office. He had to collaborate with an Eastern group. He was friendly with that group’s leader, Tarun, but as meetings proceeded he found that Tarun seemed to become increasingly competitive, and as Vishwas saw it, was trying to undermine him by constantly claiming credit for more of the work. His instinct was to plot revenge of some kind. But he learned about reciprocity and exchange, decided to step back and ask what currencies Tarun seemed to be aiming for. It struck him that Tarun was driven by seeking recognition, exactly what Vishwas was plotting to deny him.


After a virtual meeting in which Tarun proclaimed – accurately as it turned out – that he and his group had made an important contribution to solving the problem they were working on, Vishwas gulped hard and acknowledged the terrific work. To his relief, the competitive behavior began to diminish, and with a few more public acknowledgments from Vishwas, collaboration and warmth increased. A potential disaster was averted. It doesn’t always happen so fast, but shifting to a partnership mindset and when possible giving what is wanted, not just insisting on what you want, is the core of influence.


In hindsight, the solution seems obvious, but think about the times you have been frustrated or furious at trying to influence someone whose cooperation you needed but couldn’t get. What currencies did they value? Could you have found a way to “pay” in those currencies and would it have made a difference? Making win-win exchanges increases your influence and power.


Learn more from Influence Without Authority, now in its third edition.


Image Credit: Pexels.com/startupstockphotos.com


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