My senior year of college was a recipe for a heart attack. In between classes, an editor position with the yearbook and a senior thesis with a tough-to-love adviser, I barely found time to exercise or see friends, much less volunteer anywhere.
So it came as an extreme shock when I got home from my very first day of work post-graduation at 6 p.m. — and I was done. No meetings, no homework, no frantic emails from yearbook writers who had a story due the next day but no sources and nothing written. Since I’ve graduated, I’ve moved twice — both to places where I’ve known no one. No family, no friends, no sister of my ex-boyfriend’s roommate’s cousin. No one. Other than work, I had no commitments. What I didn’t have was money.
I feel comfortable admitting this, because I feel like it’s a struggle most people (and especially 20-somethings) encounter at some point. Rent, utilities, gas, food, bar tabs, student loan repayments, buying work clothes, furnishing your apartment… it all costs money. When donating to charity came up, I gave in tiny, sporadic bursts — $5 to the Salvation Army bell-ringer, $10 to a jump-rope fundraiser for my brother. Bigger donations were tough, especially in winter months with through-the-roof heating bills.
But for a good number of 20-somethings, we have time. Although it’s different for everyone, most of the 23-year-olds I know are not married. We don’t have kids with their soccer teams and Girl Scouts and classroom parties. We have time.
Commissioned by Convio, Edge Research conducted a study in 2010 on The Next Generation of American Giving. Interestingly enough, for Gen Y’ers, we are more likely than Boomers (born 1945-1964) and Matures (born 1945 or earlier) to become involved with an organization by first attending an event or volunteering.
What’s more, we stay involved with these charitable organizations differently than our parents’ generation. Although Boomers and Matures often donate directly to a charity, Gen Y’ers are more likely to be involved across the board — donating goods, volunteering, participating in an event or using their spare time to advocate for the cause.
Do you think these numbers are representative of your experience? Do you donate more time but less money than your parents do? What about your friends?
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