I didn't even hear her speak, but just hearing the story moved me.
My daughter, who is a fundraiser, attended her local Association of Fundraising Professionals meeting recently. She said that she and her fellow fundraisers were charmed by a 13-year-old girl's story about raising money for charity.
The girl is a part of a "youth in philanthropy" group at her school. The group sold salsa to raise funds for a good cause. Once the money was collected, the group sent RFPs out to several local charities, thinking that would be a good way to pick the recipient of their philanthropy. They ultimately gave $1000 to a charity that serves young children.
Why that charity? It was the only one that bothered to fill out the RFP.
First I was blown away by the spirit and wisdom of these kids, and then I was angry that some charities blew them off.
What did the charities that ignored the RFP miss? First and foremost, they missed a golden opportunity to connect with and win the hearts and minds of a new generation of philanthropists. Secondly, they missed the chance to share a heart-warming story with their other supporters by writing about how this group chose them for its donation. Can't you see that on the website, in the newsletter, maybe even in the local newspaper?
One of the most eloquent spokespersons for what she calls the "compassion boom" is Lee Fox, founder of KooDooZ, "a social network for kids who want to make a difference." In her personal blog, Lee writes:
"Youth is our country's largest population group -- reportedly 70 million strong. In fact, 1 out of every 4 Americans is under the age of 18. Over 13 million American teens volunteer an average of 3 hours per week, totaling over 2-billion hours of service per year....Frustratingly though, due to ageism, many of these young minds and able bodies are under-utilized in helping with the humanitarian challenges they care about the most. This is perhaps why we're seeing more and more pint-sized philanthropists founding their own philanthropic organizations in order to have impact."
At KooDooZ, they are particularly in tune with Generation Z, who are 12-13 years old at most at this point. They are called the "homelanders," referring to the most notable crises during their lifetimes--9/11, Katrina and a recession--and are shaping up to be some of the most passionate young people we've seen about doing good through volunteering and philanthropy.
I wonder how many charities are thinking about these young people and preparing to interact with them, cultivate them, and most importantly, listen to them.
Sadly, most are not. Otherwise those charities that received the RFPs from that group of young people, who trusted that if they raised money, many causes would be interested in receiving their donation, would have filled out that piece of paper and been honored to do so.
What is your organization doing to connect with Generation Z? Are you missing opportunities?
- Generation Z--the new philanthropists (KooDooZ Blog)
- Giving: With a Touch of "Me" - Bloganthropy
- Alex's Lemonade Stand's Connect With Us Page
- 6 Facts About Youth Volunteers
- 10 Ways to Recruit and Engage Youth Volunteers
- Young vs Older Donors: Who is More Generous?
Photo by Leland Bobbe/Getty Images