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Millennials Choose to Live and Give in Kalamazoo

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Joanna Donnelly Dales

Millennials carry a lot of influence in today's society. We asked Joanna Donnelly Dales, Vice President of Donor Relations of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, to weigh in on the philanthropic impact young professionals have in Kalamazoo and why she thinks they choose to live and give here.

The millennial generation, or Generation Y (GenY), is "the most civic-minded" since the generation of the 1930s and 1940s, according to Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, & The Future of American Politics. They are America's "newest civic generation," say the authors of another book, Generation We: How Millennial Youth are Taking Over America and Changing Our World Forever.

Communities like ours are already seeing the benefits as this generation deploys its time, talent, and treasure among nonprofits and a multitude of causes. Millennials are volunteering and-even though their careers are just beginning-making financial contributions too. Nationally, 75 percent donate to the causes they believe in, 70 percent have raised money for those organizations, and 63 percent have served as volunteers.

Recent studies on millennial philanthropy agree on the passion this group has for engagement, especially in areas where their affinity is great enough to give money.

Matthew Downey of the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University recently told MiBiz that millennials "are much more engaged and hands-on" than previous generations. They want a higher level of involvement than those who came before them in addition to making gifts.

Collectively, millennial pocketbooks contain $62.7 billion in discretionary spending power. They also stand to inherit substantial wealth from their parents and grandparents, which is widely reported to be $41 trillion. The combination of high engagement and significant financial resources bodes well for communities like ours that attract and retain young talent.

Kalamazoo County is full of opportunities for young people to engage and make a difference. Our perfect size appeals to millennials who want to make an impact in the community in which they live and not endure a long commute to do so. Here you can participate, make a difference, and still have a small carbon footprint.

In Kalamazoo, you can volunteer and give to a variety of organizations from soup kitchens to symphonies. Plenty of choices were available in the last few weeks. If music is your thing, you could have ushered people in to hear Andre Watts at Chenery Auditorium for the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival. There were also at least two opening days to pick from; Milwood Little League on Cork and Lovers Lane or the Kalamazoo Farmers' Market on Bank Street. You also could have hydrated runners along the Kalamazoo Marathon's 26.2-mile course through the city. These and countless other events and organizations will make you "love where you live" when you call Kalamazoo home.

The Kalamazoo Community Foundation plays a supporting, yet important role in making this place we call home not just livable, but also loveable.

Kalamazoo Community Foundation

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