[Editor’s note: With the Council’s Family Philanthropy Conference set to begin on Sunday, January 31, we asked our 21 conference bloggers to tell us a question they think family philanthropy needs to explore as the San Diego conference begins. Here’s Allison Sole’s answer. Sole is deputy director, 21/64 at The Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies.]

Amidst an intergenerational wealth transfer, we find ourselves more attuned to the reality of multiple generations at the same table. As average life expectancy rises, that table of Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials will soon need to make room for Generation XD—the digitally-aware offspring of Generation X who have never known life without the Internet.

How do we continue to shift our thinking from a perspective that speaks of generational gaps to one that recognizes differences as opportunities—opportunities to pool stories, values, skills and resources? Could it be that generational collaboration and respect become the new philanthropic Iingua franca?

1 Response to A Common Language

Gary Shunk

February 1st, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Excellent post Allison. Bridges instead of gaps. Bridges get built by the simple, yet profound service of deep listening. There is a common language in philanthropy, and that is love. Remember “The Color Purple?” Shug said, “Everything wanna be loved.” Listening is an act of love. We just need to practice and hone that skill (olders, youngers, and middlers).

Hope you are getting some California sun. Best to you and Sharna. Gary

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