Omar BrownsonThe Next Generation of Philanthropy

By: Omar Brownson In: Next Generation| Philanthropy

2 Oct 2012

For the next generation of philanthropists, I don’t think they’re going to ask themselves whether or not they should work in the private, public, or non-profit sector.  They’re going to wake up each day and ask themselves what impact am I going to make today.

The traditional model of a successful career and life was divided into three phases: we learn, earn, and then return.  We went to school, got a job (and kept it for decades), and then at the end of our life we gave back from the fruits of labor.

Now, we can pursue both purpose and profit.  There is a convergence between money and meaning throughout one’s life.  For philanthropy this means that donors no longer are passive supporters, but are more engaged in creating the means of change they seek in the world.  Donor circles, social entrepreneurship, impact investing, corporate social responsibility, crowd-sourcing are examples of this convergence.

My own career has spanned private equity investing, affordable housing, chairing the board of a community foundation, and now large-scale, place-based change centered around the 51-miles of the Los Angeles River.  My goal has always been to be on the side of initiating change regardless of what sector I was in.  Crossing sectors and building bridges has allowed me to focus on creating change today and not wait for tomorrow.  The continued convergence of sectors will allow the next generation of philanthropists to focus even more on impact and not artificial distinctions between money and meaning.

Omar Brownson is the executive director of the LA River Revitalization Corporation. This blog originally appeared on Giving in LAa blog by the California Community Foundation.

2 Responses to The Next Generation of Philanthropy

George McCully

October 3rd, 2012 at 9:32 am

Excellent. This is part of the current paradigm-shift in philanthropy. Under the Old Paradigm of the 20th century, described by Olivier Zunz in his recent book, the idea of the three sectors became the predominant view in the last half of that century. As Omar is pointing out, even that fundamental view of societal structure is dissolving. Good work!

Avectra’s Nonprofit News – Week of October 8, 2012 | Avectra Blog

October 13th, 2012 at 3:57 am

[...] blog post I found on the Council On Foundations website is a quick, but interesting, read on The Next Generation of Philanthropy by someone who represents the next generation of [...]

Comment Form

Welcome to RE: Philanthropy! In this blog, guest and Council bloggers share ideas and insights on the most pressing issues in philanthropy. If you want to contribute, please contact

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Council on Foundations.


Carina Wendel and Rebecca Graves
Josephine Ramirez
Michigan Rural Network
Jenny Hodgson
Rene Cabral-Daniels
Hal McCabe
Priscilla Enriquez
Diane Miller
Mary McClymont
Stephen Pratt
Van Evans
Nancy Berglass
Richard Sussman
Teri Behrens
Rachael Gibson
Novelette Peterkin
Lyle Matthew Kan
Phil Hall
Leanne Breiby
Laura Meyer
Candace Winkler
Jason Franklin
Danielle Williams
Mary Phillips
Kari Jackson
Shelton Roulhac
Dr. Peter Long
Nicole Robinson
Mayur Patel
Rick Mappin
Dale Robinson Anglin
Susan Beaudry
Sue Hildick
Michele Frix
John Feather
Todd Sukol
Marilyn LeFeber
Ralph Fuccillo
Nina Smart
Owen Heleen
Shanee Helfer
Terri Freeman
Kate Schrauth
Ashley Blanchard
Helen Brunner
Andrew Allen
Jacob Gayle
Brian Reich
Alexis Raymond
Darryl Lester