The Evolution of Millennial Philanthropy

Doing Good With Our Wallets, Voices & Hearts

Ten years after being featured in the Oregonian’s 2008 article, “A fresh take on philanthropy”, here we are celebrating our 15th anniversary with three nonprofit partners and one simple but important mission: to inspire the next generation of givers.

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Millennials Do More With Less

While a group of philanthropic young women was not a new concept in 2003 when Levé formed, the idea of a Board of Directors made up of young women coupled with an organization with no paid staff, was–and still is–quite unique. We recognize that philanthropy is changing. That the emerging philanthropist wants to actively change the world, not just check a box and get a tax receipt. For millennials, causes matter more than organizations and results matter more than awards.

According to Blackbaud, millennials now have the highest rate of giving (72% of Baby Boomers give to charity and 59% of Generation X does the same, while 84% of millennials give to charitable organizations). The way they give looks different–often favoring to donate time or physical items over dollars–but they are giving what they can in a time when Americans are giving less than they ever have. They’re making the most impact with the least cash.

Millennials are also more likely to do research on the causes and organizations they support. They want to know exactly where their money is going. We admire charity:water for moving the industry forward on this front. They were pioneers in showing donors specifically how their money was being used. Not only did it help improve trust, but it brought people closer to the cause. Now, they’re using data to connect donors to the people they’re helping–and it’s awesome. It’s no wonder how they have inspired so many millennial supporters.

The tradition started as a college party for a good cause and evolved into a grown-up philanthropy that shatters expectations.
— The Oregonian, 2008

How Levé Has Evolved Since 2003

Levé membership has expanded into a “training ground” for young philanthropists. As an opportunity to cultivate not only nonprofit endeavors, but also significant professional and personal growth. It’s not uncommon for our members to get new jobs, learn new skills, or even change careers based on a connection they make. In the 15 years since our inception, there has been a significant rise in the formation of nonprofit  ‘Junior’ or ‘Associate’ Boards all across the country. Check out our blog post, What is a Nonprofit Associate Board?, to learn more.

By 2016, we were officially operating without a founding member on the board–a fact the current Levé women do not take lightly. The founders built this organization from the ground up and as the 2008 Oregonian article highlighted, “the tradition started as a college party for a good cause and evolved into a grown-up philanthropy that shatters expectations.”

Today, Levé continues to operate as a 501(c)3 and although we still have no paid staff, we continue to connect local nonprofits to a new generation of advocates, who trust us to curate relevant causes to support year after year. Our value lies in our efforts to support and lift the great work already happening in our community; instead of competing we're complementing. An annual partnership with Levé extends the fundraising, volunteer, and advocacy reach of each nonprofit.

While there is still a gap in monetary giving between millennials and our parents, we're helping bridge that divide by inspiring charitable habits in the younger demographic—we understand them because we are them. Through our diverse and growing nonprofit network, we continually enlighten ourselves and supporters about Portland’s most vulnerable and strive to give them a voice. Today, more and more young people are joining seasoned philanthropists by getting involved in social change and becoming first-time donors. It's so exciting to see.

The #DOMOREGOOD Movement

Levé was borne of the belief that anyone can make a difference. In fact, we believe the impact of several smaller donations can be more effective than a few large ones. That's because when we do something for someone else, that good energy ripples out; it's contagious. When we build charitable habits, we are better citizens, colleagues, parents and friends—and we inspire others to be too. And thus is the magic of the ripple effect.

That’s why, in celebration of our 15th anniversary, we’re kicking off our 1st Annual Do More Good Day on September 5, 2018. It's about more than big checks and corporate sponsorships, it's about thinking of others first. It's about holding the door for your neighbor, paying your barista a compliment, and standing up to strangers.

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Our goal is to raise $3,000 in 24 hours for our 3 amazing nonprofit partners. We’re challenging you, our supporters, to do more good by sharing what you can:

  • Your Wallet: Make a donation. Levé is a small but mighty group and we believe in the power of gifts that match–truly, no amount is too small to make a difference.

  • Your Time: Sign up for a volunteer shift before the end of 2018. Check out our Do Good, Feel Good Calendar for some inspiration!

  • Your Voice: Stand up for something. Did someone say a hateful word in a meeting? Let them know it's not OK. Write a letter to local government. Call a senator.


Ready to #DOMOREGOOD with us?