RG’s Giving Guidelines
Resource Generation is working toward a vision in which wealth, land, and power are equitably shared.
We believe that grassroots social movements led by people in the Global South, people of color, poor and working class communities, women, and queer and trans people are our best hope for achieving this vision. Young people with wealth have meaningful roles to play in supporting this visionary leadership, as organizers, fundraisers and donors. As part of a coordinated strategy to systemically redistribute wealth and repair the harm created by wealth extraction, RG asks our members to take bold action with the resources currently under our and our families’ control, moving toward greater alignment with humanity and the planet.
We are currently living in the most extreme wealth inequality in modern history. As young people, this stops with us.
The following are a set of guidelines to help young people with wealth make choices about redistributing wealth.
RG asks people in the top 10% to develop plans to redistribute all or almost all (see below) inherited wealth and/or excess income to social justice movements in alignment with our social justice giving principles. This includes a commitment to a more equitable and sustainable standard of living: having enough money to cover expenses and keeping expenses moderate. See “Notes on Financial Planning” below.
We encourage you to use this guide as a general direction, not as a perfect roadmap. Everyone’s wealth, life, and family situation is different, including that many RG members have restricted access to wealth in our names.
We want everyone, our members included, to have access to basic human rights and opportunities to thrive. We are working toward a world where everyone is able to retire with dignity, access a fulfilling education, meaningful work, quality healthcare, plenty of food, stable housing and enough of a safety net (personal or family/community) to deal with emergencies.
The vast majority of people in the US and globally don’t have the basic human rights described above, and do not have the luxury to consider “how much is enough?” As people with privilege, we are being asked to share more risk.
And, as young people with wealth, we have an incredible opportunity to be on the side of justice by fueling and amplifying the power of social movements with our hearts, bodies, minds, and resources.
These guidelines ask us to go against societal training, and will inevitably bring up feelings such as excitement, hope, inspiration, anger, fear, shame, numbness. We welcome these feelings. The guidelines are not meant to demand perfection or shame us, but to call us forward into action and transformation. This is an invitation to grapple with these, alongside a community of people doing the same.
Assess your current giving, and join RG in making a pledge at one of the following levels:
**Note: If you have class privilege but do not have current access to wealth, make a giving pledge at a level that reflects bold giving for you, and start to plan for future inheritance or earnings.
Return the Wealth — Redistribute all inherited wealth and/or excess income
Choose a time frame within which you will redistribute all excess wealth you hold. Shift economic power to the poor and working class led organizations and communities that our wealth came from.
For those acquiring wealth through highly-paid work, give away all wealth above a moderate standard of living. (See notes on financial planning.)
Escalate Your Redistribution — Turn up the heat on your giving!
If you’re already giving more than 10% of your assets or income, set a goal to double your giving in the next 1-3 years.
Begin to Spend Down — and Spend Into Movements.
At this level, you begin to redistribute wealth.
For inheritors, give 10% of your assets annually.
For those acquiring wealth through work, give away 10% of your annual income.
Say No to Making Wealth off of Wealth — Redistribute all capital gains to social justice movements! Give around 7% of your total assets annually.
For money in the stock market, average annual capital gains are about 7% of your assets. Giving at this level puts a pause on accumulation.
Start the Journey — Give between 1% and 7% of your assets annually.
If you are invested in the stock market and are giving less than what you make each year, this means that you are making more money off of your money.
For those acquiring wealth through work, give 1-10% of your income.
Everyone starts somewhere! Wherever you’re jumping in, the important thing is to take action, learn, and keep moving. And remember: the RG community is in this with you!
Guiding Values and Beliefs
We come to our wealth from different backgrounds — some of us grew up working class, now have high-paying jobs, and financially support people in our families and communities. Some of us come from multiple generations of wealth that can be tied directly to colonization, war, and slavery. Some of us received settlements from traumatic situations that changed our lives. Some of our families’ wealth helped us escape war or the worst impacts of racial oppression.
But all of us with access to wealth have benefited financially from an economic system that accumulates wealth by stealing the land, labor, and lives of poor people, Indigenous people, Black people, and people of color. We have the opportunity to turn the tide on these past and present harms by participating in reparations and returning wealth to communities who are leading the work to overturn oppressive systems. For all humans, Earth, and all its inhabitants to heal, especially the most exploited, reparations and repair on all levels is necessary.
We’ve got to be brave and bold. Making a commitment to wealth redistribution often means going up against societal and family norms, and committing to transform ourselves in the process. It means learning to find safety in our relationships and community, and not in our bank accounts. It means being willing to change our personal standard of living so that our collective standard of living improves.
As wealthy people, we have a lot to gain from redistributing wealth, including:
- Being able to make significant and meaningful contributions toward building the world we long for, and moving from our investment in the current system
- The satisfaction of integrity and living in alignment with our values
- An increased sense of interdependence and reliance on other people, which builds intimacy and community
- Letting go of guilt or shame that we have so much while others are struggling
- More connection with other people’s experiences, and less isolation
- More resilience — knowing in our bones that we are resilient and resourceful and can meet our needs with the support of communities.
Notes on Financial Planning
We encourage all young people with wealth, who are able, to work to cover our cost of living and save toward our financial goals. Though work within capitalism is imperfect and often challenging, being able to support ourselves financially brings important structure, dignity and connection to our lives. Some people, especially people with disabilities and transgender people, may have limited options for paid work. If this is true for you, and/or if you provide significant financial or caregiving support to others, take that into consideration as you figure out what a powerful giving pledge means for you.
Assess your safety net and plan accordingly. Some useful questions to consider:
– Based on your immigration status, race, ability, gender, religion, sexuality, are there needs for a larger or smaller safety net for you or your community? Are you the first person in your family to be wealthy?
– How many people do your finances support? Are you being financially supported by someone else like a partner or family?
– Will you inherit money in the future? Will you continue to have high earning power?
Financial planners recommend having 4-6 months living expenses in non-retirement savings. As of 2017, only 45% of adults in the US were able to achieve this level of savings. Still, we consider it good practice to save money from income towards an emergency fund in addition to saving money towards retirement or other goals.
Where do my financial choices fall in relation to other people in the US?
- Many young people in the top 10% of wealth and/or income choose to use a significant amount of resources to pay for graduate school, a down payment on a home, retirement, etc. or to supplement or replace income from working in order to maintain a higher standard of living, unpaid internships, or volunteer opportunities. Gaining access to these things using inherited wealth reproduces the status quo of our class system.
- When financial planning, we encourage people with wealth to ask: are these choices getting me/us to the kind of world I/we want to live in? What action can I take toward that world? Below are some statistics to help locate your experience in relation to other people in the U.S.
- The odds of becoming part of the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans are more than 700% greater if your parents were in the top 20 percent instead of the bottom. A 2018 study showed that: “The most important way in which families maintain their wealth is…the transmission of wealth to the next generation…through…supporting children’s education…their ability to purchase a home, or to get married…All of these…in turn help you accumulate wealth.’”
- “Fewer than one in ten people had the majority of their college finances supported by their parents.”
- Only 8% of graduate student costs are paid for by contributions from friends or relatives, with such averaging less than $8000 of help per person.
- “While most white families own a home, a majority of Black and Latino families do not. In 2011, the median white household had a net worth of $111,146, compared with $7,113 for the median Black household and $8,348 for the median [Latinx] household.”
- 27% of white households who purchased a home had help with their down payment from their family, in contrast to only 7% of Black households.
- 40% of people in the U.S. are struggling to pay for their basic needs such as groceries or housing.
- Only 22% of households headed by someone 55 and over have retirement savings of $250,000 or more.
- 30% of young adults in the US “are living with their parents…In some of the priciest areas…it would take those with a college degree and student loans nearly 30 years to save up enough for a 20 percent down payment.
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