Are 80 million potential voluntourists, slacktivists & DIY humanitarians the future of charity?

Forgive the catchy headline, but this is still a development blog ;)!

To answer my question straight away: No, of course not.
But wait, there’s more…

In a recent NPR feature How Millennials Are Reshaping Charity And Online Giving Elise Hu shared the story of Charity Water founder Scott Harrison:

Harrison volunteered to spend the next two years in West Africa. What he found when he first got to Liberia was a drinking water crisis. He watched 7-year-olds drink regularly from chocolate-colored swamps — water, he says, that he wouldn't let his dog drink.
Most childhood diseases in the developing countries he visited could be traced to unsafe drinking water, so everything changed for Harrison. He got inspired to start raising money for clean water when he returned to the states, but his friends were wary
But this is not a critical post about Charity Water and development entrepreneurs (there was a nuanced debate on the organization over at Humanosphere last year).
The real dynamite comes a bit later in the form of a statistic that one Twitter user summarized as follows:

As much as the article deals with future challenges around giving, excuse me, in neoliberal charity new-speak it has to have a business connotation (… younger donors want to feel more invested in a cause. Choose a different word, with a different connotation: investment), the numbers are scary.
Not all 80 million millennials want to help/invest abroad, give up time or money or care about ‘development’, but that still leaves us with a significant number of potential DIY do-gooders, because as Harrison recalls from speaking with his friends (when? During a 1987 ‘aid does not work’ seminar?!):
"They all said, 'I don't trust charities. I don't give. I believe these charities are just these black holes. I don't even know how much money would actually go to the people who I'm trying to help,' "
And we are only talking about North American millennials here. We haven’t even started to include a new generation from BRIC countries and beyond that may repeat some of the previous mistakes as I wrote a while ago.

In the end, we teachers, researchers, educators and citizens will have to live with a growing demographic of people who will be demanding their full charity investment experience-either abroad and/or in connection with online activities…it means that traditional charities have to change from the printed newspaper to a New York Times online to Buzzfeed model of charity or the attention, clicks and dollars will go elsewhere-potentially traveling with a new generation of entrepreneurs who want to experience quick impact during a short sabbatical…


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