While the Gates Foundation has raised the bar for global philanthropy, today’s youth will revolutionize global giving in the coming decades.
Youth under 21, so-called digital natives, were born into the era of globalization in which communication technologies have narrowed the distinction between local and global. New media has increased awareness of global conflicts such as the World Trade Center attacks, Mideastern wars, and unrest in Darfur, and crises including climate change, tsunamis, and earthquakes that are shaping an expanded geography of caring.
Even with such growing international awareness, nurturing a global philanthropic ethos requires intentionality by parents, teachers, and adult mentors. Learning must also show youth the potential from gifting their time and talent — along with treasure — which they can share across a lifetime journey of giving.
Here are a few ways to help grow global philanthropy among the next generation:
Philanthropic travel: The transformative power of service-oriented travel is the most immediate and profound way to engage young people in lifelong caring for our world. When our daughter was 13, she traveled with her mom on a “Seeing Is Believing” trip to Zambia with a group of philanthropic investors. The deep impact of that learning experience led her to help organize a travel philanthropy trip back to Africa when she was 16. The group included teens involved in YouthGive, and has continued to sustain her global focus during her college years.
Effective solutions/nonprofits: Youth become more engaged in global issues when they learn about concrete solutions to critical changes, such as clean water access, preventing malaria, and extending educational opportunities for girls. For example, a high school YouthGive Club holds an annual outdoor YouthFest where teens teach elementary-age kids about the UN Millennium Development Goals. The event creatively promotes effective, globally focused nonprofits (such as Charity Water, Kiva, Mercy Corps, Right to Play, and Room to Read) that offer tangible and compelling solutions in partnership with local communities, NGOs, and social entrepreneurs.
In-school and at-home learning: The foundation world has the opportunity to support the next generation of global changemakers by supporting philanthropic education in schools, at home, and through nonprofits. Numerous organizations are creating classroom curricula and service learning programs, family tools, and online games to encourage the giving journeys of young people and their families.
How do you think foundations and the philanthropy world can raise the bar to grow the next generation of world-savvy philanthropists and global citizens?
Dan Siegel and Jenny Yancey are co-presidents of YouthGive.