Charitable Gifting: How Millennials Prefer to Donate, with desirelist and The People's Music School

"Charitable Gifting”: Millennials prefer to give charitable gifts than monetary donations

For all the grief that Millennials get for their self-centeredness, they’re a surprisingly altruistic bunch, a generational characteristic that is most apparent in the rise of a new approach to philanthropy called ‘Charitable Gifting.”

Millennials are driven by issues and causes that are important to them, as is evident in the support they give to brands and companies that they believe are also supporting those topics. However, many are deterred from making cash donations to support these causes -- not only because they’re a cash-strapped generation weighed down with student debt, but because they’re unsure whose hands their money will eventually land in, and whether it will get to the needy or be swallowed up in administrative costs.

“Charitable Gifting” -- the act of donating actual items in need rather than a cash contribution -- has risen to permit Millennial altruists a pathway to charity that matches their needs as patrons of the 21st century.

According to the national charity commission, administrative costs are understood to be the costs that are not directly incurred by a charity in delivering charitable services. This essentially means any costs beyond what is required to fulfill the charitable service, like shipping food.

For example, many people cite entrepreneur James Altucher’s position on charities, featured on the popular Freakonomics blog: “For every $1 someone donates to the American Cancer Society, 98 cents goes (sic) to administrative costs […] [and] for every dollar I give to the American Cancer Society, 21.8 cents goes (sic) goes towards furthering their marketing efforts.”

Many argue that administrative and marketing costs are necessary in order for the organization to grow, and therefore do not devalue donors’ cash donations. Nonetheless, there have also been too many deplorable examples of fraud in the nonprofit space, which also contributes to hesitation for many would-be donors.

Following the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, up to $2 billion of taxpayer money was accrued by fraudulent scams and schemes, according to a June 2006 article in The New York Times. Worse even, an audit from the Government Accountability Office that month estimated that as much as 21% of the $6.3 billion given directly to victims might have been improperly distributed.

The millions of lives impacted as a result of this fraud are the foremost victims of these types of crimes; however, they aren’t the only ones affected.

There’s also the innumerable people and causes in need who may never receive the aid they require because fraud and nontransparent charities have made many would-be donors hesitant to give back with cash donations.

Charitable gifting – buying the exact physical items that nonprofits, organizations, and charities need and delivering them straight to their doors – aims to alleviate that strain and get people donating again.

According to youth marketing agency MillennialMarketing, “Millennials are the most altruistic and socially connected demographic that this country has ever seen.”

Millennials truly want to make a difference in the world, for causes both big and small, localized and global. Nonetheless, they’re not content to simply throw money at a problem.

Millennial donors want accountability and transparency in their actions, and charitable gifting provides the peace of mind that will encourage greater gifting experiences for all parties.

For example, desirelist, a new ecommerce platform that connects potential givers with those looking to receive a gift, has recently endeavored to help two Chicago nonprofits receive desired products to help their organizations thrive.

The Chicago House, a Social Service agency that serves individuals and families who are disenfranchised by homelessness, poverty, and LGBTQ marginalization, used desirelist to procure the necessary items for the children who benefit from their care, to create Valentine’s Day gifts for their loved ones.

Currently, desirelist has partnered with The People’s Music School, the only completely free music school serving Chicago metropolitan area children, to provide much needed supplies. The School has created a desirelist of the instruments, tools, and accessories they need most to keep their organization thriving, from saxophone reeds to a cello and everything in between. Through the desirelist platform, people can easily buy the exact items the organization needs and have the gifts delivered straight to the School’s doorstep.

Through charitable gifting, desirelist aims to provide people an easy, transparent platform to make a real and immediate difference in the world.

Find out more at, or visit The People’s Music School’s desirelist page at to be a true change agent in a child’s life.



Return of the Hustle Launch Party

I'm very excited to announce the official launch of my latest publication, Return of the Hustle: The Art of Marketing with Music. 

The book becomes available worldwide on April 20, 2016. To celebrate, we're leading a panel at Soho House Chicago on Wednesday, April 27 at 6:30. 

I'll add more details soon of our other upcoming events!