Next gen donors find many faults in old‐school philanthropy, the greatest of which being that many of our most troubling social problems persist despite decades of philanthropic giving. If all that giving to education has led to the largely dysfunctional system we have now, something isn't working. If we still have dramatic, rising economic inequality despite hundreds of millions of dollars in philanthropic giving to address this specific problem, then maybe, next gen donors reason, it's time we try a new approach.
Their desire to make seemingly intractable problems tractable motivates next gen donors to try innovative methods. In fact, their willingness to veer away from the usual suspects in the philanthropic lineup and experiment with new approaches is perhaps their most revolutionary characteristic. To achieve the big impact they long for—revitalizing education, eliminating health disparities, and so on—they feel they need a bigger and better tool belt. And sometimes they feel the need to take more dramatic steps, even if that means blurring the lines between the nonprofit sector and other sectors.
Next gen donors aren't just less afraid than previous generations to experiment with unlikely mechanisms for change; they're downright eager to try nontraditional funding vehicles. In a way, they want to disrupt philanthropy, just like Amazon disrupted the publishing industry, and Airbnb the hotel industry.
Experimentation, like revolutions, can be ...