WYA Hosts a Discussion with the 21st Century’s Generous Ones

On May 31st, the World Youth Alliance hosted Dennis J. Gerber, president and CEO of CCF Giving, a donor-advised fund that advises donors in wise and effective philanthropic strategies, for a conversation on The Generous Ones: those who seek to nurture a spirit of giving and responsible stewardship in the 21st century.

CCF Giving promotes a culture of generosity and philanthropy that encourages persons to recognize their role as good stewards of monetary resources. The mission and values of CCF, in growing out a particular model for financial giving, align with those of WYA: a disposition to provide for the good of others, which establishes a community of solidarity and generosity in accordance with the dignity of those involved.

Dennis’ presentation illustrated each person’s role in philanthropy, and then explored why all persons have a responsibility to give. Beyond electing to give, the planning process involves a variety of factors; where donating money is important, responsibly doing so is equally so, both in terms of targeted impact of the gift as well as the integrity of the mission to which the gift is given. CCF has denied grants because the donor sought to donate to an organization incompletely aligned with CCF’s own beliefs–it directs its donors towards organizations that authentically respect the human person. The responsibility and diligence in donating is essential: CCF helps the donor make an informed decision, and this lends itself to responsible giving.

In addition to an overview of his own work, Dennis explored various questions donors ask when creating a philanthropy strategy:

  1. To what organizations should one give?
  2. How much should I give?
  3. What is informed research on an organization?
  4. Is there a practical way to inculcate this environment?

Young adults especially, who seek to know the fullness of self-gift as it manifests in the shared giving-receiving that unfolds when persons give financially to mission-driven work, have an intrinsic responsibility to build out systems for doing so well and with integrity. Financial investment bears a personal reflection on the donor who invests–and should do so, insofar as money ought to always be placed at the use of the human person (and his own capital-through-creativity), whom it was created to serve in the first place. The chosen investment then bears a reflection on the donor’s willingness and capacity to structure his self-giving in a manner proportionate to a mission-driven organization’s capacity to prove true to the investment made.

Dennis also explored the rising issue of the donor cliff. Many millennials are not donating at the same rate as their predecessors, which creates funding gaps in the lives of non-profits and other institutions, who may rely on legacy giving and the building out of endowments. Once a donor passes away, there is the problem of replacing them. Thus, over time, many organizations will not receive the same financial support that they receive in the time between. Part of the long-term financial project thus lies in building out structures so that families, both immediate and then those built through cultural, philanthropic solidarity, can sustain their giving over long periods of time.

Philanthropy proves to be essential to the running and maintaining of missions, and donating is an important part of social growth. Where philanthropy establishes the need of able families to give, giving ought to be directed, ultimately, to organizations consonant with their values and the truth of the human person and his flourishing.