New Fundraising Policy and Updated Definition of Wealth

In RG’s 20th anniversary year we are proud to rollout two innovations which will take our work of organizing young people with wealth for the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power to the next level by being more clear, public-facing, and transparent about our work. These are defining “wealth” in “young people with wealth” and shifting from a strict non-solicitation policy to leaning into our role as movement funders and fundraisers. Both of these changes have been years in the making and a response to member, board, and external partner feedback.

Staff drafted the policies in 2017 and then hosted two all-member calls (open to wealthy members and Advocate members) and released a survey to our membership to give input. We revised the policies to integrate member feedback and then the 15-person National Member Council (NMC) had a chance to give input. Members of the NMC also brought their chapter’s feedback to the full NMC convening. Staff then integrated NMC feedback and presented final versions of the policies to be approved by the Board of Directors in Sept, 2017.

  • Definition of wealth (Defining “wealth” in “young people with wealth”)

  • Updated fundraising policy

Definition of wealth (Defining “wealth” in “young people with wealth”)

Over the years one of the frequently asked questions we’ve received is “what do you mean by ‘wealth’”, and until now we have left it broad and open to self-identification. The project of defining what “wealth” means for our base began in earnest in 2015, as a result of a racial justice assessment process where one key recommendation was to create a definition of wealth so that young people of color with wealth could more easily identity as part of RG’s base. In general, in order to build our power we need to be specific and clear about who our base is, which means defining “wealth.”

Here’s where we landed: You are a young person with wealth, or a partner of one, if you or your significant other fall roughly in the top 10% of net wealth for young people (18-35).

This definition is not intended to be a rubric to decide whether someone can engage with RG or not. Rather, it is a clarification of who RG’s work targets and is most relevant to. As has always been the case, RG’s membership and leadership are made up from people across the class spectrum. RG’s programming is centered around organizing young people with wealth, but this does not mean that someone who is not wealthy cannot be part of creating and leading our work. In fact, part of what makes RG’s organizing powerful is our cross-class leadership. If the definition of wealth does not apply to you but you find RG’s work meaningful, we encourage you to stay involved with the understanding that our programming and organizing will be primarily oriented towards people in the top 10%.

If you are a chapter leader, check out this FAQ.  

Full definition of ‘top 10%’ or ‘wealth’

Some people with class privilege who don’t fit into the definition may still find parts of RG’s programming resonant and helpful. This definition is meant to identify the people who will find RG’s organizing and programming most relevant.

So let’s talk about what we mean by “wealth.”

Net wealth is everything you have (value of property, vehicles, art, jewelry, stocks, bonds, trust funds, Certificates of Deposits, or cash) minus everything you owe (debt, loans). You are a young person with wealth, or a partner of one, if you or your significant other fall roughly in the top 10% of net wealth for young people (18-35). You meet this definition if you say YES to something in ANY of the 3 categories below:

  • Personal Income
    • You are making an annual income in the top 90th percentile for your state.
    • Median income for the 90th percentile of young people (18-35) nationally is $105,000
    • We know that income and cost of living varies widely across the country, so this range looks like approximately $82,000 – $248,000 (from lowest cost of living in McAllen, TX to highest cost of living in Manhattan, NY).
    • A total household income of over $143,000 per year (supporting 2 adults only), {keeping in mind the same cost of living variability}
  • Personal Net Financial Assets. As a reminder, your net financial assets is what you own (cash, stocks, real estate, car, art, jewelry, etc) minus what you owe (debt, loans). If you are a homeowner, this includes your home equity (the current market value of your home minus the outstanding mortgage balance).
    • You are 18-25, your net financial wealth is $50,000 or more
    • You are 25-29, your net financial wealth is $100,000 or more
    • You are 30-35, your net financial wealth is $200,000 or more
  • Family Net Assets
    • Your family’s net wealth is $1 million or more
    • Your parent’s annual income is in the top 90th percentile for your state. Median income for the 90th percentile of people age 45-65 is $185,000.
    • You or your family members have a family foundation
    • For people with family ties outside of the U.S.: Your family owns land estimated at a value of $1 million or more OR has major business interests in OR is in the ruling elite (includes having access to major political power) in your home country

Definition of High Net Wealth
We find it’s useful to differentiate the top 1% from the rest of RG for organizing purposes. The needs of this group – logistically, emotionally, structurally – greatly differ from the rest of our group. For example, the need to hire staff or create infrastructure to move $1M is very different than making $5k/year donations. We say High Net Wealth rather than Worth because we know that a human’s worth is not greater or more important than others because of their access to wealth! We are attempting to capture what it means to be in the top 1% economically in the US.

How does RG define High Net Wealth?

You meet this definition of high net wealth if you meet ANY of the criteria below:

  • You are an individual or part of a couple with direct access to $1M in liquidable assets or greater. This means you either have it invested in the stock market, bonds, cash – ie, not a house or asset, unless planning to sell said asset in the next year.
  • You anticipate inheriting at least $5M in the course of your lifetime (we know that inheritance schedules vary greatly among individuals)
  • You are an inheritor whose family’s net wealth is $10M or greater – this definition of “family” refers specifically to family members who plan to share this wealth with you and/or whose wealth is organizable by you (e.g. parents, grandparents, etc. Can include siblings or cousins if you plan to share wealth together)

Why these numbers?
$1M liquid:

Top 1% median net wealth $425K- age 25-29
Top 1% median net wealth is 1.63M age 30-39

Inherit $5M:

  • Assuming someone inherits this after they age out, this will land them in the 1%- technically, the 1% is ~$8M, but rounding down to $5M for simplicity and to guess on average that they will inherit before age 50 or so

Family Wealth $10M:

  • If a person’s family has wealth of $10M or more, their capacity to move family money is greatly increased, even if they do not have direct control over the money – we need to address that potential
  • $10M because we assume not all of the wealth would go to the RGer (especially if they have sibling(s) – this is a rough number we created to acknowledge this puts them in the 1% even if they inherit about half of the money

Updated Fundraising Policy

In order to support accountable cross-class relationship building and our shift towards becoming more external-facing, we must be honest and transparent about our expectations for fundraising and giving within Resource Generation as an organization of people with access to wealth and wealthy networks. To this end we are moving from a general “no” stance around fundraising to “yes and do it according to a set of fundraising principles.” This means RG is now generally a place in which fundraising asks can happen, except for spaces explicitly designated as non-solicitation spaces. We expect RG members to give and to become skilled and grounded fundraisers for social justice movements.
If you are a wealthy member of RG, before making fundraising asks to other RG members, we ask that you first invest in the organization and in your own learning by participating in our political education through our chapters (i.e. praxis groups) and/or national retreats.

  1. More details for young people with wealth or class privilege
  2. What you can expect from RG members if you make a fundraising ask — for poor, working, middle-class external audience and Advocate members
  3. Fundraising Policy FAQ for Chapter Leaders

Thank you so much to all of you who took the time to give input as we developed these policies, especially our poor, working, and middle-class members. This work isn’t possible without your leadership. I am confident that we have settled on policies that reflect our collective best thinking. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or feedback.