Revolutionaries aren't known for their deep respect for legacy. The whole point of revolutions is typically to overthrow the ideals and institutions of the past.
But next gen donors are approaching their Impact Revolution in ways that don't quite fit the radical mold. They want to transform the future of giving, yes, but they also have an admiration for those who contributed to social change before them. In fact, the primary challenge facing many of the donors we talked with is reconciling this respect for the past with their avid desire to improve the future.
One thread connecting the past and the future is the concept of legacy. Next gen donors see legacy not as an anchor holding them back so much as an engine pushing them forward. They embody the famous image that Isaac Newton gave to describe his innovations: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”1
For many, legacy is rooted in a master narrative communicated from one generation to the next. Whether we hail from wealth or not, hearing our families' stories offers us a platform to feel we are part of something bigger. It invites us to write our own chapter in what feels like an overarching history. Our study of next gen donors has convinced us that conveying the family narrative—especially in a candid way—influences how much a next gen family member will want to become a giver instead of a taker, the causes he or ...