The young and rich: ‘Give away our wealth’

Kai Ryssdal Mar 25, 2013
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The young and rich: ‘Give away our wealth’

Kai Ryssdal Mar 25, 2013
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If you love something, the saying goes, set it free. Let it go. Give it away, even. Americans give away, on average, about 5 percent of our earnings. Some give more. Some less. A few give everything. Paul Sullivan is the Wealth Matters columnist for The New York Times. He writes in the Times’ special section this week about young people who’ve inherited money — big money — and who’ve decided to give all of it away. Sullivan says it may sound crazy, but these so-called “trust fund progressives” have a different mindset.

“This particular group, they’re motivated by social justice,” says Sullivan. “They have all this privilege, they realize they have all this privelege, yet they feel a little guilty about it.”

Sullivan says these types of inheritors are looking for ways to give money away — and there’s an organization called Resource Generation that brings together young people with financial wealth to help them figure out how to give their money way to causes that matter to them.

“They are writing checks to traditional nonprofits, to charities. They are also making low or no interest loans to organizations that they believe in. Lastly, they are helping their friends. They are perhaps buying a new car for somebody who needs to drive to work or helping somebody who needs to pay a big medical bill,” says Sullivan.

Exactly how much money are we talking about here? There’s a wide range — everything from inheriting a house worth $500,000 to having access to a foundation worth $100 million. And the young wealthy are not just giving away dividend checks and extra income, they are dipping into principal and giving away vast sums.

If all of this sounds crazy, Sullivan says there is some young idealism involved here. Inheritors who are involved with Resource Generation are between the ages of 18-35. “They kick them out when they are 35 and become cynical,” he jokes.


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