October 19, 2017 Newsletter Sign Up Subscribe



 YOUTH & PHILANTHROPY Traditional nonprofits may not be dead, but they’re in serious need of reinvention, a panel of young philanthropy activists and thought leaders told a September forum hosted by Contribute at The New York Public Library. “There’s a lot of innovation that needs to happen,” said Martin Smith, 26, the co-founder of startingbloc.org and of justmeans.org, two new nonprofits that aim to incorporate social responsibility into public and private- sector employment. “It’s not just how we give back our money,” Smith told the capacity crowd. “It’s also about how we make our money that matters.” Some of that innovation may well come from the emerging market for socially responsible goods and services, said Carol Cone, who used the forum to release new survey data compiled by her Boston-based marketing firm, Cone, Inc., showing that nearly 9 of 10 of men and women ages 18 and older will purchase a product or service that’s tied to a social cause over one that is not, price and cost being equal. What’s more, Cone said, 74 percent will pay more attention to marketing messages from a company they know supports important causes.That social conscience is also being given new life online, said Joe Green, 24, a cofounder of Causes, a new Facebook application that processes direct donations to nonprofits. With easy online portals that communicate each missions clearly, groups increasingly win support “not based on how well they do fundraising, but…how compelling are the causes they support,” Green said. The appeal of giving through social networks like Causes and online auction models such as DonorsChoose, a Web site that matches donors to individuals in need of specific items, is that it gives the mainstream donor a voice he or she has not had before. Said Melissa Berman, CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors: “The desire of people to be engaged…is a universal need in human nature, and …levels of trust and confidence [in charities] are not what they once were.” People who want to donate to charity, she said, “have much more of a show-me attitude.” They want to give to groups that can prove they make a difference, she said. Other panelists were: Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose; Suzanne Seggerman, cofounder of Games for Change, the socially conscious video game development nonprofit; and Sharna Goldseker, founder of 21/64, the youth arm of the Charles and Andrea Bronfman Foundation. Contribute Editor-in-Chief Marcia Stepanek moderated the discussion. The biggest lesson to learn about young philanthropists, said Cone, is this: “If they don’t know the impact of their efforts, they absolutely get very cynical very quickly.” — Tracie McMillan
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