More than ever, London's younger generation of professionals are looking for charitable traction in both their social and their working lives says Cheryl Chapman
'I'll donate ’13.65 if someone matches it. It's all I have left in my wallet!' says a voice from the back of a city bar packed with 50 or so millennials, all members of the City Funding Network.
A cheer goes up. Other members of this live crowdfunding circle aimed at young City professionals appreciate the spirit of the donation; it's not the recommended ’50 pledge but everybody in the room is caught up in supporting the three charities that are pitching to reach the ’5,000 they require to fund their particular projects – in this case start-up funding for a new charity that will rival pay-day lenders by offering fairer credit to vulnerable borrowers.
Stephanie Brobbey, a 29-year-old City solicitor, is typical of this new breed of 'more than money' professional, who want to be active in the world beyond their careers and who enjoy socialising around it.
Brobbey, who joined the City Funding Network in 2012 and is now an ambassador for it, says: 'I love giving together with other like-minded people. It's inspiring to meet people on the same wavelength and have rich conversations with them about what we all care about. It's empowering.
'I am very proud to be a Londoner and so it gives me great pleasure to invest in local charities, especially those seeking to change the lives of vulnerable people such as the elderly, ex-offenders, single parents, domestic violence victims and young people.'
The City Funding Network is one of many giving networks emerging around London. Westminster civil servant Lucy Rochelle, 25, is a member of the Bread Tin, a London-based giving network that takes members through a seventeen-month 'learning by giving' process with donations pooled and matched by a senior mentor.
'Being part of the Bread Tin is one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had,' says Lucy. 'As a group you have the opportunity to give a donation of up to ’20,000. And when you have the promise of a donation of this size you have a unique opportunity to work closely with a charity to find the best use of that money.'
Lucy and Stephanie are the faces of millennial workers (early twenties to early thirties), who want to give back, as new research from Cass Centre for Philanthropy and Giving reveals: 'More to Give: London Millennials Working Towards a Better World' presents the findings of the first London-wide research on employee involvement and attitudes.
'It finds many millennial employees have high expectations of how they, their employers and the wealthy could make a bigger contribution to building a more equable and sustainable society,' says co-author Professor Cathy Pharoah.
'Moreover, the youngest employees are looking for opportunities not only to give money, but to apply their existing professional or business skills to help charitable organisations, in turn gaining new expertise which benefits their working and personal lives.' The report reveals that 35 per cent of respondents aged under-35 want to give more money than they do, compared with 21 per cent in the over-35 group; 53 per cent of the under-35s want to volunteer more than they do; this reaches 60 per cent in the 18-24 age group and it compares with 35 per cent for those over 55.
Motivation to give more, expectations of what employers can contribute, the desire for more philanthropic information and for workplace and other opportunities to give time or money are all highest in the younger age-groups, consistently tailing off across older age-groups.
'A distinct millennial profile has emerged. This is a strong indicator of the specific value of investing in the millennial employees' willingness to give. With the pressures on London's infrastructure growing daily, and a further era of spending cuts imminent, this philanthropic impulse is a potential asset for the voluntary sector which we cannot afford to neglect,' says Pharoah.
The findings should also be a wake-up call to companies wanting to attract and retain the next generation of talent. Nearly half of under-35s agree that employees are looking for companies which aim for social and environmental value as well as business success and profit (46 per cent), compared with 29 per cent in the 35 and over group.
Twenty years ago philanthropy and volunteering were a retirement plan; today, as this research shows, it is seen as a vital part of a career.
Download the 'More to Give: London Millennials Working Towards a Better World' report here
Cheryl Chapman is the Director of City Philanthropy