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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


An Interview with Generation Y: Confessions of an Entitled Philanthropist

My friend, Paul Borthwick, recently interviewed a young adult on the subject of how his generation will handle philanthropy based on current attitudes and values. Paul’s guest blog is below.

I thought you might like to read these words from a twenty-something responding to questions I asked about raising funds from the under-30 crowd. The remarks are quite blunt (probably a result of the fact that the respondent knows me and is not afraid to be honest), and your first reaction (like mine) might be to think of the 20-somethings-you-know who are opposite to these thoughts. The respondent is from a upper-middle class background and a liberal arts state college grad (who prefers to remain anonymous).  –Paul Borthwick

Concerning giving among my generation, my observations are: 

1. Many people in my generation feel entitled. We ‘deserve’ to drive in luxury, we have ‘earned’ the right to be pampered and take exotic vacations, and we are worth being spoiled with facials, manicures, spas, new clothes, gyms, professional trainers, dinners at fancy restaurants, followed by fancy drinks, fancy coffee, etc. etc. etc. If this all sounds like the Kardashians, you’re right! This type of lifestyle takes lots of money, often leaving us broke, or worse, in debt. I think a good bell weather for our cultural narcissism is the American wedding. It captures much of what is wrong with our culture. After all this, we don’t have any money left to give to others.

2. The second largest debt in our country is from student loans. Financial gurus believe it is the next financial crisis, and it could possibly be as large a melt-down in the financial services industry as we just experienced. After all this, we don’t have any money left to give to others.

3. Men and women in their 20s and 30s have experienced wealth unlike any other generation, which is due entirely to the wealth of our parents. We’re given credit cards to ‘have fun’, weekend trips to high-end places (paid for with frequent flyer miles coupled with free stays in luxury hotels), international travel all over the world, and this is all before college! After all this, we don’t have any money left to give to others.

4. My generation has been tutored to get high scores on the SATs, we’ve been trained by professional lacrosse players all summer with the hopes of earning a starting spot on the varsity team, we’ve had movies made of our outrageous successes that can be sent to the colleges of our dreams, we’ve been chauffeured to school every day, and professionally chauffeured in limos to the prom, concerts, and other events. After all this, we don’t have any money left to give to others.

5. The level of narcissism is growing exponentially. Consider TV. Who do you think is watching all the dating (e.g. The Bachelor and Bachelorette), romance, living together, and navel gazing (Anna Nicole Smith, Gotti Girls, Kardashians, Osbournes, etc. etc.)? It takes a lot of money to live the way these shows project living.

6. In short … my generation has been born into wealth – it’s all we know. We enjoy the attention, but we’ve been so busy receiving there’s little time left to consider the needs of others. Some day we’ll make a difference in the world, but today we’re engrossed in Facebook, making it to the next major party or wedding. We’ll give to breast cancer, because someone in our family’s been diagnosed with it. We’re aware of abject poverty, human trafficking, and inhumane living conditions around the world, but like everything else in our lives, someone else will take care of it (i.e. pay the bill).

Thanks Paul. OK. Give me your thoughts. Do you see it the same way? How will charitable giving look as Generation Y comes of age?

Artificial Maturity

1 Comment

  1. Jackie on July 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    As a former foreign missionary who left the field after moving our family of 6 for 6 years, I can relate. We are back in America and see the indulgence that has been described by Paul.
    I would say when the economy took a dive we felt it in this generations parents giving. Many were so far into to debt they could no longer support us.
    But I have also witnessed the generosity of some. We taught our children about giving meaning sacrifice (not token). We have many token givers in this land of plenty.
    I was a part of Passion 2010 and 2012 with my college aged sons. Together as a group these crowds donated millions. They have a heart for justice.
    Now how much of that came from wealthy parents I don’t know but they were generous. And some were even hungry and generous!
    I am not sure you can teach generosity. It is one of those “caught” behaviors.
    Acts 4:32-35 we all need to see others needs and realize our responsibility to participate. Not as “socialists” but as Jesus followers. The key, I believe, is in the SEE.

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An Interview with Generation Y: Confessions of an Entitled Philanthropist