Empowering People through Behavioral Science
Purpose & Wealth

An Unlikely Partnership: Paving the Way to a Purpose-Driven Future

By New Paths to Purpose Staff

This is a blog post by the founders of Purpose Generation, Alexandra Douwes and Nellie Morris. They have been collaborating with the NPP team led by Professor Eugene Caruso that focuses on studying the nexus of Purpose & Wealth.

About two years ago, we were introduced to an amazing network called Nexus Youth Summit. Nexus brings together young entrepreneurs and next gen wealth holders from across the world to collaborate and convene around topics such as philanthropy, social impact, and global development. We attended the first New York global summit and were blown away by the commitment these young leaders had made to use their resources and influence to make a difference and build a collective legacy for good. There is often a stigma placed on “inheritors,” (for example, that they are lazy or entitled) but the individuals we met at Nexus didn’t display any of these characteristics. Not only did many of them become close friends and role models, but they were also instrumental in inspiring us to start our company, Purpose Generation. We founded Purpose Generation to help large corporations better engage and connect with the next generation of consumers, employees, and investors by integrating purpose-driven initiatives and strategies.

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Image: © 2012 Victor 1558

As we built our business and discovered the many misguided preconceptions about our generation, we were shocked by the lack of quality research. While engaging the Millennial generation, which we define as 18-34 year olds, remains a challenge that many of the world’s largest corporations are struggling with, few academic institutions are attempting to quantify the key motivators or drivers of our generation when it comes to how we spend, invest, and donate.

It was two fellow Nexus members who first introduced us to the research team led by Prof. Eugene Caruso at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. We flew down to Chicago to meet the team and learn more about the objectives and focus areas of New Paths to Purpose. We were particularly impressed that the Templeton Foundation and Booth School of Business recognized the importance of quantifying something that has traditionally been viewed as “fluffy” and “immeasurable.” By taking on the challenge of understanding purpose, they have established themselves as leaders in the new economy, where people are increasingly demanding a greater sense of purpose, whether it is as consumers, investors, or employees.

In this “new economy,” traditional lines of academia are being blurred, as data can be sourced from almost anywhere and anyone. It is more important than ever to blend both qualitative and quantitative research by forming cross-sector partnerships that will allow us to study the true drivers of human behavior. One of the most successful innovation-consulting firms, IDEO, is doing so by creating “unlikely partnerships” between engineers, anthropologists, and even journalists. Our partnership with NPP is another example of one of these unlikely partnerships, which we believe will become the norm rather than the exception. Purpose Generation has been able to connect the NPP team with a community that has traditionally been very challenging to reach, allowing the NPP team to develop a unique understanding of the ways that wealth and purpose interact. Our hope is that this research will result in invaluable insights that highlight the true motivators of the Millennial generation, encouraging corporations and institutions around the world to adopt a new purpose-driven approach to serving their stakeholders. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Prof. Caruso and his team, and we look forward to continuing our research and partnership with Nexus in 2014!


This text has been authored in collaboration between several NPP staff members.

Associated Project Theme: Purpose & Wealth

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