“One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, four…” If you’re part of my generation, you may remember singing this English rhyme. In our early school days it served as a way to choose teammates, but now we are all grown up and finding ways to teach the next generation about the discipline and joy of charitable giving choices.
One percent, two percent, three percent… ten, fifty percent or more! How do we educate young adults to become generous and committed to a life-long philanthropic strategy with their peers? Who will lead the Millennial 50 percent giving pledge challenge? Who will pick up the torch from the likes of Warren Buffett, Mark Zukerberg, and Bill and Melinda Gates?
In 2011, Americans gave $300 billion to charitable causes (only 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP), but spent 50 times as much on politics and 10 times as much on professional sports, according to an article in the fall 2012 issue of Philanthropy Magazine by Adam Meyerson, President of the Philanthropic Roundtable. Two percent! What about three? Meyerson advocates that a “three percent solution” for philanthropy would raise an additional $150 billion, which could make a huge difference as “individuals step up to solve problems without waiting for government to act.”
Two percent we have; three percent and much more is on the wish list. How about a universal buy-in by young adults to annually give one percent, not of GDP, but of earned income? Research from the One Percent Foundation shows that those who start giving early in their lives become even more generous over time. The Foundation leaders believe that philanthropy “should not be driven by income or age, but by the power of collective action to create lasting change.” It is their goal to build a broad based movement for philanthropy by educating and mobilizing young adults to give away at least one percent of income annually and encourage every person to increase the percent over time as incomes grow.