Research shows today’s college students more generous

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (U-WIRE) – In a society where popular culture focuses on the partying habits of young celebrities, a spoiled image of the high school and college-age generation begins to emerge.

Freshman Katie Lostroscio is doing her part to change that. After helping raise more than $26,000 for the victims of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, Lostroscio now directs her philanthropic efforts to the tragedy in Darfur.

“You have to be there for people when they need it most,” Lostroscio said. “Spending your money on alcohol will not solve any problems.”

Greek organizations, long portrayed in the media as toga-partying troublemakers, actually dedicate a substantial amount of their time and energies to fundraising efforts both big and small at Indiana University.

Big Man On Campus, a male talent competition that brings together multiple organizations throughout IU, raises thousands of dollars each year for breast cancer education and awareness.

“A large portion of the money we raise each year comes from IU students,” Zeta Tau Alpha philanthropy chairwoman Sara Wortinger said. “It is something that our chapter and the entire community can get excited about.”

From AIDS research to the YMCA organization, outreach groups can now be found for almost any cause. That type of constant exposure has led researchers to believe that those in today’s college-age generation may be the most philanthropic yet.

“There are definitely hints that people born since 1983 will, as they gain in income, be more generous donors than the 1964 to 1983 birth cohort has shown to be,” said Melissa S. Brown, associate director of research at the Center of Philanthropy at IU-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

Brown analyzes contributions from both individuals and organizations and interprets them by age, gender, cause and amount given.

“Research suggests that ‘Millennials’ (the men and women currently in college) are poised to take over the social space that is opening with the deaths of people in the ‘Greatest Generation,’ or those born before 1946,” she said.

Sophomore Alyson Nonte is one ‘Millennial’ who plans to donate when she enters the work force.

“I will definitely give to charity when I am older and comfortable in a job,” she said. “But right now it’s a struggle even to buy groceries without a stable income.”

Senior Andrew Kirk isn’t so sure.

“I am afraid people say that they will donate in the future as a cop-out,” he said. “It’s easy to say that – hopefully I am mistaken.”

With role models like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates donating billions of dollars to their favorite charities, it can be difficult not to feel overwhelmed and discouraged when giving only $5 or $10 to a cause.

“Even though others may not be in the same place as you,” Lostroscio said, “you just have to remember that we are all human and it is our duty to help out.”