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Generational Giving and the New Normal

Generational Giving and the New Normal

As the leader of a dues-based organization, as well as a board member of the United Way of Brevard, I have seen firsthand a tsunami shift in how giving has changed. Companies and individuals are no longer joining a Chamber of Commerce because it’s the “right thing to do for their community,” and they certainly aren’t giving their hard-earned money to a one-stop shop nonprofit like United Way because they want to “feel good.”

Nowadays it’s all about the return on investment and cold hard numbers. Workplace campaigns are dwindling as the needs of our community continue to grow. It’s not a problem unique to the Space Coast, and in fact our community is still giving and performing much better than the national average. Why is this I wonder, what will it take for the next generation(s) to see the value in giving?

In a 2017 article in Forbes titled “How Millennials are Changing the Landscape of Non Profit Giving,” author Justin Miller makes some excellent points that I have found to be specifically true as an emerging professional (so long M word)!

While we are a generation that values social engagement and dedicating time to a cause we consider valuable, we also are a generation that’s gunshy to give monetarily. The economic recession of 2008 left many of us stranded in college, exiting college to no jobs or suffocating under a mound of debt. Most emerging professionals of a certain age are more apt to save their money versus give out of fear of the unknown as our economy makes a comeback.

The narrative to this generation should not only be about why organizations deserve funds to sustain their missions, it should be how to give smartly and have the most impact within their specific budget.

At the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce, we are examining this as we explore our forthcoming tiered dues structure, which will match partner businesses with the benefits they most desire. For an organization such as United Way that serves countless groups with missions ranging from children to the homeless, there is a dialogue about communicating the individual stories and exactly what this important organization is doing to better people’s lives in our community. You would be amazed at how far a dollar gets stretched for the betterment of our own backyard, and we don’t always hear those stories.

Brevard is such an incredible community because of our seemingly collective willingness to grow and improve our resources. Honing in on this generation’s desire to connect the dots is paramount to sustained and systematic giving. They want to understand why they’re giving and for the organization they’re supporting to be completely transparent.

Fostering a sense of community while giving can create the excitement needed to fundraise or develop a budget. And there’s no better community to engage with than Brevard, no matter which generation you belong to! The time for giving is now, no matter what that looks like for you specifically. Find your most current passion, and give to it with the time and money you can afford.


Jennifer Sugarman, President and CEO of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce, is a busy working emerging professional mom to son, Emmett. She formed the Cocoa Beach Chamber’s Young Professionals Group in 2016, currently serves on the board for United Way of Brevard and is an active member in Brevard County’s business community.


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