NextGen Ten: New Wave Of Philanthropists – Key Characteristics

Zaki Cooper and Nick Loughran 23 June 2023

NextGen Ten: New Wave Of Philanthropists – Key Characteristics

New approaches to philanthropy are needed to meet challenges such as recovering from a pandemic or human-caused global warming. The authors of this article consider in what ways changes can take place.

Philanthropy continues to evolve – this publication recently mused about the challenges for advisors when charity can often take on a distinctly controversial hue, for example. In what ways is philanthropy changing, and why? The following article, from Zaki Cooper and Nick Loughran, co-founders of UK-based consultancy Integra Group, examines the territory. Loughran worked for eight years at Kensington Palace for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. He has advised the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Cooper has worked at Buckingham Palace on the Diamond Jubilee and for Sir Lloyd Dorfman.

The editorial team is pleased to share such insights; the usual disclaimers about the views of outside contributors applies. Jump into the debate! Email

Across different fields, young people are assuming leadership positions. Whether in politics, business or education, there are many people in their 30s and 40s, even some in their 20s, who are making their mark. As an illustration, Rishi Sunak, who took office aged 42, is the UK's youngest prime minister in 200 years since William Pitt (who was 24). The shift towards the younger generation is also reflected in philanthropy and impact.

Over the next 25 years, $30 trillion-plus will be passed on to the next generation in what has been described as the greatest wealth transfer in history. Some of this enormous pool of wealth will be used for philanthropy, charity, and social impact. Whilst the desire to give back spans ages, this new cohort is transforming how we do philanthropy. The following are 10 key characteristics of this rising wave of givers, the NextGen Ten.

A different mindset
Due to recent technological, social, and cultural transformations, NextGen givers have grown up in a world that is more interconnected than ever before. The result is a generation with a global mindset coupled with greater awareness of cultural diversity and a desire to improve society. NextGen givers are keen to take on philanthropy as part of their identity. Indeed, a 2021 study by Fidelity of individuals who had given over $1,000 to charity in the previous year, found that 74 per cent of Millennials surveyed described themselves as philanthropists (compared with just 35 per cent of Baby Boomers).

From philanthropy to impact
Millennials are impact-driven and willing to entertain new tools that may help them achieve their charitable goals. They are some of the most enthusiastic supporters of social enterprise and impact investing and have contributed significantly to the rise of ESG. They may see their giving as a kind of risk capital, especially when it takes the form of impact investments. Notably, the Fidelity report also found that 43 per cent of Millennials surveyed engaged in impact investing (compared with just 12 per cent of Boomers).

Campaigns and advocates
Social justice is at the heart of NextGen giving, with many in this group donating not just money but their time and voice. Millennials often express their philanthropy through campaigns, such as the #MeToo movement, BLM, or Extinction Rebellion, rather than just supporting causes like gender and racial equality and the environment more generally. For example, the younger generation of Royals has drawn praise for raising funds and awareness for mental health and, more recently, the importance of early childhood development through the Shaping Us campaign.

Collaboration and partnerships
The NextGen recognises and celebrates the importance of collaboration and partnerships. They are more willing to join forces with others to tackle big social issues, including global health, climate change, and education. Millennials often have a greater level of humility in recognising others’ contributions than they are given credit for. Consider, for example, how their generation has embraced and popularised crowdfunding to support particular causes.

Wider pool of causes
NextGen givers recognise the value of supporting causes in several areas of society – from gender equality and racial justice to education and the environment. They have an awareness of intersectionality and are open to the possibility that supporting one cause might help another. For example, Millennials may support climate change efforts, recognising that it will also help to mitigate the suffering and numbers of environmental refugees.

Though they are not the generation responsible for climate change, many of the NextGen recognise that time is running out to prevent its most devastating effects and are leading the transition to a more sustainable world. This year’s Sunday Times Giving List prominently featured donations to causes supporting the environment, with high-profile celebrities like Cara Delevingne at the forefront of the movement.

Diversity amongst givers and recipients
Philanthropy has traditionally been dominated by a specific group of people, namely, older, white men, but now, greater accessibility is allowing other groups to grow their philanthropic work in their activities and roles. The outdated, patriarchal model is being challenged, along with concepts like primogeniture. Approximately 10 per cent of UNHW individuals globally are women, and female philanthropists contribute about 14 per cent of donations to social justice by UNHW individuals. Figures like MacKenzie Scott are acting as role models to younger women in this space. In addition, women, LGBTQ+ people, and ethnic minorities are bringing their lived experiences to philanthropy and ensuring that the causes they support help people from all backgrounds.

Digital natives (tech as part of the means and the end)
Technology is not separate from other parts of Millennials’ lives; it is intrinsic to them. Accordingly, NextGen givers are harnessing the power of technology in their philanthropic pursuits. On the one hand, they use tech to support causes. Fidelity’s report showed that 39 per cent of Millennial donors have used online giving platforms, and 24 per cent have made a donation after learning about a cause through social media. On the other hand, they also see technology as an end, supporting charities and organisations embracing digital solutions to complex problems.

Family convenors
According to Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors: “Next generation philanthropists are people who see themselves as descendants rather than ancestors, who want to use their wealth to be a service to others.” This group can facilitate dialogue between different generations to galvanise support for a particular cause. This kind of open conversation is beneficial for all involved; family members can learn from one another and share their experiences.

In recent years, there have been increasing calls for transparency in philanthropy. Public figures are being held accountable for where and how they spend their money, including in charitable settings. NextGen givers are conscious of this fact and want to ensure that they are using their resources as effectively as possible. They recognise the importance of results over rhetoric and are willing to take unconventional, creative approaches to achieve them.

Like all generations, Millennials and Gen Z givers are called to action by the challenges of their day. Unlike other generations, however, many of today’s challenges – from pandemic recovery to climate change – are unprecedented. These extraordinary issues require alternative, creative approaches which challenge the limitations of traditional philanthropy. In these ten ways, NextGen givers are shaking up the status quo in philanthropy.

About the authors  
With 40 years of combined communications experience, including over a decade between them working for the Royal Family, Zaki and Nick build trusted relationships with entrepreneurs, leaders, family offices, philanthropists, and businesses, who have a social purpose. They co-founded Integra in 2021. It is a London-based strategic communications, reputation and social impact consultancy. 

Nick Loughran


Zaki Cooper

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