SARASOTA, Fla. (Feb. 24, 2016) – Philanthropist Jaimie Mayer says millennials are no less committed to philanthropy than people of her parents’ or grandparents’ age, though they tend to view giving differently.
“We got out of school during the Great Recession and there weren’t a lot of jobs available,” the 32-year-old says. “A lot of us had to be more entrepreneurial and this has bled over into our philanthropy. We tend to be more hands-on.”
Mayer knows a thing or two about giving. She grew up around philanthropy as the great grand-daughter of Nathan Cummings, the entrepreneur who became the founder and guiding force behind the Sara Lee Corporation. Cummings imparted to his children a sense of philanthropy that exists to this day through the Nathan Cummings Foundation, of which Mayer is a trustee.
She also runs a successful consulting business that works with philanthropists in their 20s and 30s and with foundations and non-profits across the United States, Canada and Israel. Among her clients are Reboot, the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and the Max & Marjorie Fisher Foundation.
On Wednesday, March 2, at 5 p.m., Mayer will present a lecture, “Honoring Your Roots: Bridging the Generational Divide,” at the Selby Auditorium, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Free and open to the public, the talk is part of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Knowledge-A-Bull Speaker Series.
Mayer speaks frequently about philanthropy and says her sense of giving was instilled as a child. Today, she works often with millennials – those born between 1977 and 1994 – and says their philanthropic spirit is alive and well, even if it emerges in non-traditional ways.
She says millennials seem hands-on, wanting to donate their time as well as money, and are prone to think strategically when it comes to philanthropy, investing in socially responsible ventures or giving to organizations that tackle multiple, interrelated issues, like environmental protection and sustainable farming.
“The environment plays a big part in all of this, seeing the world as one big ecosystem,” she said.
That’s a 180-degree turn from conventions that put off philanthropy until middle-age, after financial security is assured. Millennials instead seem to be diving in feet first, while still in college in some cases. Those unable to donate financially are giving their time and energy, she said.
“It’s not about prestige,” Mayer said. “It’s about being hands on and giving back now while we’re still around. It’s about leaving a footprint now.”
She defines “intergenerational giving” as philanthropy that bridges generations, with younger and older philanthropists pooling their resources to support causes important to both.
“In intergenerational philanthropy you learn from each other, you learn from their legacy,” she said. “It might mean that you talk with your father about why he gives to a certain cause and how we’re going to work together to give to that same cause.
“It’s important to have those conversations now while your parents and grandparents are alive,” she said.
Mayer is a trustee and fourth generation family member of The Nathan Cummings Foundation, where she previously served as an associate for more than a decade. She was the president and founder of The Buddy Fund for Justice through the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors for five years, as well as the final chair of the Council on Foundations’ Film Festival and the Film and Video Task Force.
Currently, Mayer is the producing director of COAL, a musical intended to galvanize individuals and communities to find their voice in the climate change movement. She founded and is the executive producer of Don’t Eat the Pictures Productions, a theater, film and event production company dedicated to developing and seeding new works.
With her company she has produced Broadway and off-Broadway works, independent films from documentaries to romantic comedies, and events ranging from hotel openings to galas.
Mayer holds an MFA in theater management and producing from Columbia University’s School of The Arts, a BA in theater from Connecticut College, and certificates from Rockwood Leadership Training, 21/64 Multigenerational Philanthropic Training, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Atlantic Theater School, and Trinity/LaMaMa.
Mayer is vice chair of ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), a trustee and development committee chair of Magic Theatre, and sits on the Scenemakers Board of The Goodman Theatre. She is a member of Grantmakers in the Arts, The Broadway League and Society of Directors and Choreographers (SDC), and a recipient of the SDC Broadway Directing Observership.
To learn more or to attend Mayer’s lecture, visit usfsm.edu/series.