Years ago a colleague told me to check out 21/64. When I did, I found that they train philanthropic advisors like myself. At the time I thought, “some day I’ll take advantage of this opportunity.”
When I decided to focus on multi-generational giving, especially next gen, a couple years later, I knew that it was time to invest in their training. 21/64 is a leader in the field of multi-generation family philanthropy and has worked with the next gen for over a decade. Of all the potential professional development opportunities, this training was the most tailored to the next steps I wanted to take with my business.
“Some day” finally came last year. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. Who would I meet? What would I learn? Would this investment be worth it?
By the time we got to lunch on the first day, I knew my investment was going to pay off. The two-day training blew me away. Everything about it was top-notch—from the expert facilitators to my fellow colleagues who joined me on this journey.
We experienced each new tool for ourselves before discussing how we’d use it with our clients. So, when I facilitate a family or a group meeting, I know what it’s like to take time and think about my values and make the tough decisions to prioritize them. I know it’s not easy. And I know that within us, we each have the answers.
Exploring the next gen donor and generational differences in giving
I’d been hearing about generational differences in recent years at fundraising conferences. However, it wasn’t until we reviewed the associated traits and values of each generation, that the personalities started to come to life for me. Now this is one of my favorite tools to facilitate. We each interact with multiple generations on a daily basis, so understanding how and why we’re different can help explain a lot. The major world events that occurred during our formative years shape who we are and how we interact in the world.
It makes sense that I’d have this revelation while training with an organization that has chosen a name that represents the four generations over the age of 21 who are now engaging in philanthropy. Twenty-one-year-olds are coming of age and beginning to explore their philanthropic identity, if they haven’t already. And 64-year-olds are starting to think about their legacy, their impact in the world. Everyone in between these ages, and above and below them, can engage in philanthropy. Now I better understand what motivates each generation’s giving.
I could go on and on about each well-researched and tested tool. I was so excited to fill up my toolbox! The nerves were fading away and I was enjoying learning alongside other advisors in the field, whether independent or with community foundations or giving circles.
This was, by far, the best professional development experience of my career. We closed by sharing one take-away from our time together. For me, it was validation that my process for working with families was solid. Now I had more “meat on the bones” to support our work together.
I’ve taken this experience and integrated what I’ve learned into everything I do—creating Philanthropy Camp for Women, engaging audiences when I speak, and working with families and teens.
Taking it to the Next Level
In the year or so since my training, I took it upon myself to meet with fellow trainers around the country—San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver. I wanted to understand how they were making the most of the tools. It felt great to connect with this small, select group of people, to talk one-on-one about our experience and how it can help philanthropic families. I felt proud to call myself a 21/64-certified consultant.
A couple of these conversations with colleagues in the Bay Area sparked an idea—let’s create a local group. Our first trainers gathering was this spring. For someone who works independently, it’s a treat to gather with like-minded individuals. I was pleased to receive positive feedback about the idea and look forward to the sharing, learning, and growing we can all do as we support one another moving forward.
This spring, I also chose to invest once again in the alumni training.
I returned to New York a different person than I was a year ago. More confident, I walked into the conference room excited to see colleagues from my initial training and one-on-one meetings. We all were more relaxed. We knew what to expect this time around—another incredible opportunity to learn about ourselves as we explore how to best support the philanthropic endeavors of our clients.
This time around, the focus was family systems and family dynamics. See what I mean when I say “learning about ourselves”? Discussing topics like these lends to a lot of self-reflection. Again, by experiencing activities first for ourselves, we become better equipped to navigate the sometimes challenging family dynamics we face when working with clients.
On a lighter note, we also explored how to incorporate play into our work with families. I’m especially excited to integrate this element into my experiences with the next gen. We rarely take time to play and yet it can be such a valuable tool. We seem to have forgotten this lesson from our childhood.
I left the second training with a sense of fulfillment and a desire to keep the momentum alive with my local colleagues.
And, I want to continue to put these tools to work for YOU. How can I help YOU find meaningful ways to give back and make a difference?