Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
“Now, as wealth becomes more concentrated, tax laws change and a younger generation develops new philanthropic priorities, museums — like other nonprofit organizations — are confronting what, if unaddressed, could become an existential crisis.”
This New York Times piece by David Gelles, from March of this year, brings up an interesting issue in the nonprofit world. As the Baby Boomer generation begins to fade out there is growing concern, specifically in museums, that the philanthropy of the older generation will not continue with their children. The rising Millennials want to know where their money is going, for what it will be used, and they want to see a measurable result from their donations. However, most museums and causes use large portions of financial contributions to fund overhead costs, and this can cause many nonprofit organizations to erroneously appear irresponsible with donations. Even the ALS Association has received flack over how the proceeds from the Ice Bucket Challenge are being allocated — see here.
Gelles adds, “And not only are 20- and 30-somethings today more interested in social causes like education, the environment and international aid than they are in the arts, but because of shifting demographics, there may simply be fewer wealthy young patrons to write checks.” Seeing this issue, many nonprofit organizations are making efforts to woo the younger generation through targeted community events, some have even seen to changes in their company’s leadership and board members. They seem optimistic that with some time, “millennials will rise to the challenge.”
This article clearly shows that the arts community is concerned about the possibility of declining financial support from Millennials. We, as future arts managers, will have to find new and innovative ways to raise funds, while ensuring our peers that their investment is being utilized to further a worthy cause: the survival of the arts.