Foundation Offers Gen Y Donors an Affordable Way to Give

How can younger donors give to causes they care about when their paychecks hardly cover the bills? The One Percent Foundation pools small monthly gifts from thousands of them, helping little contributions make a big impact.

Making philanthropic contributions isn’t something that only older people do.

The idea here is that young people can feel empowered to make a difference when they have some guidance and a way to pool their money together.

According to the 2013 Millennial Impact Report by Achieve and the CASE Foundation, some 83 percent of those in the survey said they gave to a charity at some point in 2012—and 52 percent said they would be interested in making a monthly donation.

Nonprofit startup the One Percent Foundation thinks it has a solution that will help younger donors give to causes on a more regular basis—and to greater effect.

Here’s How It Works

The foundation provides 20- to 30-year-olds an online platform to pledge 1 percent of their annual income. The payments are made monthly and, in some cases (think students bogged by loans and other debts), can be as low as a few dollars.

The power of this approach to fundraising lies in the collective effort. Individuals donate through “giving circles” pegged to a cause. They can join one of the more than 70 preexisting giving circles or choose to build their own network. The One Percent Foundation donates each circle’s total contribution to a charity voted on by members of the group.

“The idea here is that young people can feel empowered to make a difference when they have some guidance and a way to pool their money together,” Lana Volftsun, One Percent’s 26-year-old executive director, recently told the San Francisco Business Times. “If we give a small amount and work collaboratively, we can have a huge impact.”

Now in its fifth year, the foundation has donated roughly $250,000 in all to about three dozen charities, according to the Business Times.

Not Just About Giving

But giving is only one part of the equation. The One Percent Foundation also seeks to educate younger donors about how to give responsibly.

The site offers access to a “giving curriculum” and tutorials to help young donors evaluate the causes they give to so they can ensure their gifts have the most impact.

Although research on generational giving shows that baby boomers are the most generous donors (members of this generation currently account for 43 percent of all charitable giving in a Blackbaud study), evidence suggests that millennials are gaining ground.

“We are definitely seeing research that shows a new mindset and attitude about being able to change the world,” Christine Arena, practice lead for business and social purpose at consulting firm Edelman, told the Business Times. “This is a group of young people that’s hungrier, much more concerned, more vocal, empowered, and much more willing to take action on their beliefs.”

Does your association offer programs to help younger donors support your mission?


Emma Beck

By Emma Beck

Emma Beck is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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