Young philanthropists: portrait of a generation

06/02/2017
  • Magazine

They’re generous, like the previous generation’s donors.
 But today’s young philanthropists are becoming even more active and dynamic in their management of donations.

They are talented and very conscious of occupying a privileged place in society. Certainly, some young philanthropists already have enviable financial resources, particularly given their age. But the common denominator of this new generation is more so in their concept of giving. The age of the wealthiest members of society giving to charity in order to fill the voids of the welfare state are done and gone. Today, young people are talking more about responsibility and action.

A way of giving thanks

Part of the HEC Montréal Foundation, the Club des 100 brings together students who graduated from the institution, who want to support the upcoming generation. Contributions from members and fundraising activities mainly serve to grant scholarships. “The goal of the Club des 100 is also to get students accustomed to the idea of giving back. It’s important to give back some of what you’ve received. We know how much influence education has on careers. For me, education is a preventative measure,” explains Georges-Étienne Bernier, Executive Director of the promotion and advertising firm Effix.

A 10-year commitment is required to become part of the club. However, for Jonathan Beauchesne, Tax Manager at Ernst & Young, advanced education has no expiration date. His desire to contribute to the development of younger people is so strong that he has written the HEC Montréal Foundation into his will. Beauchesne also supports his high school, a pilot school of the OSM, because not everyone has had the same opportunities as this philanthropist . . .

At the Young Bar of Montreal, the pro bono action committee is quite popular, as Extra Junior Laguerre, President of the association, informs us. Preparation for hearings, legal support for consumers, volunteer work at the Maison du Père and fundraising activities for the Pour 3 points organization bring together numerous young attorneys who want to help those less fortunate. Marie-Pier Lépine, who was working in private practice but had also been volunteering for a long time, was looking to realize her passion for social engagement. So she decided to join her two interests—law and social causes—by leaving private practice to work for the Foundation of Greater Montreal.

Relationships, experiences

“Philanthropy has changed in the last 20 years. It’s profes- sionalizing, and the expectations of donors are no longer the same,” affirms Jacinthe Roy, Executive Director of the Association des professionnels en gestion philanthropique. Young people don’t respond to solicitation through the mail, they’re engaged in causes. They want to witness the outcome of their actions.

Though none of the young people interviewed specifically mention the social aspect of philanthropic activity as a source of motivation, they do recognize that community spirit is a positive aspect of their involvement. In fact, the 2016 study of tendencies in Quebec’s philanthropic activities, jointly led by the organization Épisode (a fundraising consulting firm) and the firm Léger, reveals that sports activities for charity receive the largest number of donations from young people.

“The experience is extremely important, because you’re getting involved for the sake of sick children,” clarifies Wolfgang Housseaux from the CRI agency, a partner of 24h de Tremblant. “For us, the sporting event is the carrot at the end of the stick.”

In philanthropy, as in other areas of life, members of Generation Y aren’t waiting for the government to take charge. They’re taking charge themselves.

Text: Isabelle Léger

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