November 12, 2010
Co-Director Mike Gast has a great quote in the new book Generation Earn by Kimberly Palmer. Check out the excerpt below!
If you’re lucky enough to know that you’ll have some money coming your way from parents or grandparents, consider talking to them about it in advance. Many families decide to pass money on to their kids and grandkids while they’re still living, not only to avoid estate taxes, but also so they can talk about how they want the money spent and give some of it away together. It might sound like as much of a challenge as deciding whether to vacation in Rome or Turks & Caicos, but navigating these kinds of intergenerational wealth transfers can be tricky, and it is a situation faced by a significant chunk of the population. The Government Accountability Office estimates that, on average, the wealthiest 10 percent of baby boomers own $3.2 million worth of assets—much of which they intend to eventually pass on to their kids.*
The group Resource Generation helps young people of wealth figure out how to wield it responsibly. Twenty-nine-year-old Michael Gast turned to the group to help him decide how to handle money he received as a gift from his grandmother. He had $40,000 left in the trust after paying for college and knew he wanted to give part of it away to social justice causes. “I wanted to align my relationship with that money to the values in the rest of my life—the values of economic justice and sharing resources—and I was really struggling with how to do that,” he says. Read the rest of this entry »
October 26, 2010
I was home yesterday with an awful cold, watching television and feeling grumpy, when I got sucked into an old episode of Gilmore Girls. Here’s the part where I admit my pet project of analyzing pop culture portrayals of rich kids. It comes with a disclaimer—I know how painful these stereotypes can be, and, what’s worse, how they sometimes stem from extremely problematic assumptions about race and ethnicity. So it’s not always funny.
But then stuff like James Spader in Pretty in Pink just cracks me up. (Someone even made a montage!) And I used to listen to “Rich Girl” by Hall and Oates before I’d go talk about Classified sometimes, just as a reminder not to take myself too seriously. (I always thought there was more than a little truth to the line, “She’s a rich girl and she’s going too far ‘cause she knows it don’t matter anyway,” in light of some of the “brave” things I’ve done.)
Anyway, even though the seventh season of Gilmore Girls is agreed by most to be a travesty, the episode I was watching includes a fascinating scene between Rory and her boyfriend Logan in which he calls her out for being a secret rich kid. A little background info to set the scene: Rory, a college student and aspiring journalist, has just given Logan an article she wrote about a party he took her to last night. Read the rest of this entry »
October 21, 2010
Holy cow. It’s been a little over a month since I became Interim Co-Director of Resource Generation, and just a few short weeks since Elspeth and I found out we would be co-directors. What a whirlwind.
I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while. Capture my thoughts and share with my community as I set off on this new adventure.
So the first thing I want to tell you is that I never wanted to be an executive director. Never. You know why? Cause it always looked like a setup. One person. All the responsibility. Ready to lead the organization, come up with the genius strategy, work the longest hours, fundraise, supervise, support, challenge, brilliant speaker, writer and charismatic too. It all seemed like too much. I have seen so many folks get burnt to a crisp from the executive director position. It didn’t look good.
And yet I’m stepping up. I’m doing it. Willingly.
One of the major reasons is that I am so excited to work with Elspeth, my co-director. She is brilliant. Really. An incredible organizer. Smart, thoughtful, committed…and she connects the work of RG with social change movements and vision like few folks I know. I am so thankful to be doing this with her.
I also think it is a great chance to do things differently. (I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes at this point. I know. Everyone says they are going to do things differently.) I think a lot of the burnout and the long-hours and the superhero expectations on EDs come from wealthy folks, particularly wealthy donors (like myself) and foundations. I think we put a lot of pressure on organizations to look like they have figured it all out, have it all under control, know exactly what to do, and that they are running things smoothly and effectively all the time. Despite our best intentions, I think we wealthy folks can be real perfectionists and control freaks. Yup. Myself included. Read the rest of this entry »
September 3, 2010
Check out this new article from RG board member Dev Aujla! Reposted from Wednesday’s Huffington Post.
Close to three years ago, I stumbled into the organizing world for what was originally supposed to be a getaway in West Virginia for a conference called ‘Leveraging Privilege for Social Change’. I was expecting a week away from email, time commitments and speakers. What I left with was a whole new outlook on what privilege meant and an understanding of the importance of peer-organizing.
I realized that ‘leveraging privilege for social change’ is much more broadly applicable and reaches beyond the typical domains of wealth and class that often come to mind. We all have communities of which we are a part and we all have privileges that only we have permission to speak about. Our privilege may lie in our relationships, our time, our energy or it may be our skills, abilities or resources, regardless we often need a little help to put them to use. We need a peer network to support us, to help us realize that not only do we have something to give, but that it is possible to make a difference.
I recently met with Kyle Thiermann who embodies just this. Kyle is a professional surfer from Santa Cruz and he decided to mobilize his community — disengaged surfers. After a trip to Chile, Kyle learned that a proposed coal power plant, funded by the Bank of America, was going to ruin the surf breaks and local culture. He began to mobilize his community, to shoot videos and to advocate in telling people to move their money from the Bank of America to local banks. With his enthusiasm, the campaign grew; this was Kyle’s community, this was his privilege. As a direct result of his organizing, he has been able to document that over $110 million dollars of lending power that has been moved from the bank. This is the power of organizing.
Read the rest of this entry »
August 27, 2010
Courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation / Diane Bondareff
Lately some big names beyond just our Resource Generation community have been pushing the idea of giving. Warren Buffett with Bill and Melinda Gates have been, “driving to get the super-rich, starting with the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, to pledge at least 50% of their net worth to charity during their lifetimes or at death.”
You have to have respect for the donor-organizing skills demonstrated by Buffett and the Gates family with the giving pledge (http://givingpledge.org/) they organized. However, a lot of the advice they’re offering isn’t too different from what we talk about at RG. Be thoughtful, but also don’t be afraid to dig in and figure it out. Be bold, give now, take action.
(In fact, those skills and similarities are no coincidence. Bill and Melinda Gates were inspired by our partners at Bolder Giving. Look out for an upcoming blog post telling the story.)
Read the rest of this entry »