What does the future hold for giving? An approach using the social representations of Generation Y


Correspondence to: Marine Le Gall-Ely, IREA, Université de Bretagne Sud, 1 rue de la loi, 56000 Vannes, France.

E-mail: marine.le-gall-ely@univ-ubs.fr


  • Nowadays, not-for-profit organizations and charities face the ageing of donors and a growing debate over monetary donation collection methods. They need to find solutions to attract younger generations of donors. Could this be done using the same methods applied to older generations? This present research investigates social representations (SRs) of giving by younger generations to understand how not-for-profit organizations and charities should approach them. The study focuses on SRs of a French sample of 276 individuals from Generation Y born between 1979 and 1991. It uses the free association technique. The results show paradoxical representations of giving. Institutionalization of giving is salient as representation of it as a freely consenting act. The paradox relies also in the strong presence of a relationship with others that parallels the gift as an individualistic choice.
  • Generation Y individuals appear to be sociable, yet they evoke more sharing and solidarity than charity. Institutionalized forms of giving, particularly via charities and not-for-profit organizations, are rejected. These individuals seem to express their individuality through practices that resemble sharing rather than giving. From a managerial point of view, these results shed light on the factors liable to cause members of this generation to give, such as (i) the use of social networks, (ii) appealing to pleasure, festivities and efficiency rather than to guilt and duty, and (iii) encouragement to “work within the not-for-profit organization”.

Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.